Social Mindfulness is Normative When Costs are Low, but Rapidly Declines with Increases in Cost

Christoph Engel, Paul A.M. Van Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

As a complement to high-cost cooperation as assessed in economic games, the
concept of social mindfulness focuses on low-cost acts of kindness. While social
mindfulness seems quite natural, performed by many most of the time (reaching a level
of 60–70 percent), what happens if such acts become more costly, and if costs become
more salient? The present research replicates the prevalence of social mindfulness
when costs are salient, but low. Yet we show that, with small increments in costs,
the vast majority no longer exhibits social mindfulness. This holds even if we keep
the outcomes for self high in comparison with the beneficiary. We conclude that the
literature on social mindfulness should pay attention to cost. Clearly, if being socially
mindful comes with high costs, this is not what most people are prepared to do. In
contrast as long as costs are low and not salient, social mindfulness seems natural and
normative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-322
Number of pages33
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Volume16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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