Cooperation Is At The Heart Of Human Social Life Essay

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Cooperation is at the heart of human social life. Correspondingly, the study of cooperation – or prosocial behavior, more generally – has gained broad attention across scientific disciplines. At large, it is agreed upon that prosocial behavior takes many forms in everyday encounters and involves several aspects (e.g., altruism, fairness, reciprocity, trust etc.; Kelley & Thibaut, 1978). Complementing this view, recent research introduced social mindfulness as a concept capturing the idea that prosociality does not only involve the will to act prosocially, but also the skill to see what others might want in a situation of interdependence (Van Doesum, Van Lange, & Van Lange, 2013; Van Lange & Van Doesum, 2015). Behaving socially mindful hence means to “being thoughtful of others in the present moment, and considering their needs and wishes before making a decision” (Van Lange & Van Doesum, 2015, p. 18) – for example, leaving the last chocolate cookie on a plate that otherwise only holds coconut cookies. As such, a socially mindful act ensures that an interaction partner will still have the opportunity to choose among the options available and maintains control over an individual outcome. Social mindfulness hence emphasizes the relevance of empathy and perspective taking beyond the willingness to behave in a cooperative fashion when making outcome choices that affect others. By implication, it constitutes a basic orientation involving both dispositional and situationally

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