A study by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad de Zaragoza has determined that when deciding whether to cooperate with others, people do not act thinking about their own reward, as had been previously believed, but rather individuals are more influenced by their own mood at the time and by the number of individuals with whom they have cooperated before.
In addition to previous studies, this research is also based on an experiment carried out by the Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems (BIFI) at the Universidad de Zaragoza, together with the Fundación Ibercivis and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), the largest study of its kind to date in real time regarding cooperation in society. It was carried out during this past December, with 1,200 Aragon secondary students participating, who interacted electronically in real time via a social conflict prototype known as the "Prisoner's Dilemma."
This game shows that the greatest benefit for individuals who interact is produced when both of them collaborate, but if one collaborates and the other does not, the latter will receive more benefits than the one who cooperates. On occasion, this allows an individual to take advantage of the cooperation of others, but if this tendency is extended, in the end, no one cooperates and as such, nobody obtains rewards.