Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Joanna Schug

Committee Member

Lee Kirkpatrick

Committee Member

William Cunningham


Cooperative heuristics have traditionally been researched through the lens of standard dual-process models of cognition and from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Despite the popularity of these approaches, research on intuitive versus extensional processing falls short in its endeavor to methodologically quantify heuristic processing and to empirically validate existing theories of social evaluation. Furthermore, several conceptualizations of the term heuristic have been proposed in the social psychology literature, leading to a lack of consensus on how cooperative heuristics function. to address these issues, the current study proposes a novel method for quantifying heuristic cognition. We propose a Bayesian cognition model of heuristics based on the free energy principle and present a framework for defining heuristics as Bayesian priors. to test our model, we ran an experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk and used a modified version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma game. Overall, the results of experiment supported our theoretical predictions and our quantitative model of cooperative heuristics. Additionally, we found evidence to suggest that men and women respond differently to social uncertainty in cooperative exchanges.



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