The Wary Student, Part 3: Cooperative Behavior

Cooperative behavior depends on the behavior of others (Alford & Hibbing, 2004). People “want a reputation as a fair, desirable, possibly generous, but certainly not foolish person [but also] worry about members oft the group who would take advantage of others if given the chance” (Hibbing & Alford, 2004, 65). Wary cooperation is a typical human behavior, and folks are “inherently disposed to be group oriented, high sensitive to be taken advantage of, and willing to incur costs to punish others who are perceived as putting themselves above the group” (Smith, 2006, 1013). This study extends previous research to see if cognitive load, like social interactions, can alter cooperative behavior.

The perception of justice is an important factor in predicting cooperative behavior, as it does to other aspects of human behavior (Gold, Darley, Hilton, & Zanna, 1984; Tang, Tang, & Tang, 2000; Hibbing & Theiss-Morse, 2001). Fairness can effect student resistance to teacher-imposed order (Paulsel & Chory-Assad, 2005). Teachers may encourage peer interaction and peer punishment,, either explicitly (Mann, 2006) or by using technological tools that encourage its spontaneous emergence (Ronen & Langley, 2004).


Types of Cooperative Behavior

That students often don’t use tools to maximize their position is often seen as a problem (PytlikZillig, Horn, & White, 2003). Yet, viewing potentially disruptive students as social altruists helps to get the most of out every student. Deviant students can help provide examples of rules for other learners (Stevenson, 1991). Indeed, “classrooms are not characterized simply by the things teachers do to students to further their learning. Instead, classrooms take on their characteristics as teachers and students alternatively influence and our influenced by one another” (Copeland, 1980, 164). Other studies and surveys have discussed the reciprocal nature of this learning (Klein, 1971; Doyle, 1979).


Research on cooperative behavior frames altruism in evolution terms (Alford & Hibbing, 2004; Hibbing & Alford, 2004), as cognitive load research emphasizes its own evolutionary component (Sweller, 2004; 2006; van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005). Evolution and cognitive theories complement each other (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002): for instance, gut reactions are driven by a lower-order system (Shiv, 2003) that is not available for introspection (Kahneman, 2003) and is revealed under cognitive load (Lieberman, Gaunt, Bilbert, & Trope, 2002). While certainly some evolved mechanisms can rely on conscious thought (Barrett, Federick, Haselton, & Kurzban, 2006; Tooby & Cosmide, 2005), this study is firmly in line with those (Barrett, Federick, Haselton, & Kurzban, 2006; Tooby & Cosmide, 2005) that have tested evolutionary hypotheses with cognitive load.

Likewise, educational psychologists study behavior because of its impact on performance. Behavior, like intelligence, strongly predicts school performance, and behavior is more amenable to modification than intelligence (Harper, Guidubaldi, & Kehle, 1978). Similarly, continued and intense practice (behavior) in an area has a great deal of influence on developing expertise (Weisberg, 1993; Kiewra, 1994; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996), more so than even native talent in that field (Gardner, 1998).


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography