Original article:

The effects of temperature priming on cooperation in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma

Evolutionary Psychology 11(1): 52-67 Simon Storey, Psychology, School of Science, Society and Management, Bath Spa University, SIMON.STOREY@bathspa.orgLance Workman, Psychology, School of Science, Society and Management, Bath Spa University


Based on initial research findings by Williams and Bargh (2008) and Kang, Williams, Clark, Gray and Bargh (2011) on the interaction between interpersonal and physical warmth, theoretical models such as cognitive scaffolding and the importance of evaluations of interpersonal warmth in trust-based decisions, this experiment investigated the effect of temperature priming on 30 pairs of British university students with hot and cold objects on frequency of cooperation in a game of iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma. Participants were found to cooperate significantly more frequently when primed with hot objects than with cold objects, supporting the assertion that physical warmth sensation positively affects interpersonal trust evaluation. No support was found for the prediction that male-male pairs would cooperate less than female-female pairs. The implications of these findings to evolutionary and developmental theories of interpersonal warmth are discussed.


Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, cooperation, interpersonal warmth.

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

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