Some people are 'majority-oriented' and tend to look at the behaviour of the majority in their group, whereas others are 'success-oriented' and try to find out what kind of behaviour pays off best, explained Pieter Van Den Berg from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

"In this experiment we studied how these different types of people behave when they have to cooperate in groups," he added."It turns out that behaviour in groups of success-oriented people was much more selfish than groups of majority-oriented people.

As a consequence, the people in the majority-oriented groups tended to earn more money in the experiment since they cooperated more," Lucas Molleman from the University of Nottingham in Britain pointed out.

For the study, two hundred participants were invited to a computer lab at the University of Groningen. They were asked to make decisions that affected their earnings. Groups were formed in which the participants could choose between a selfish option (increasing their own earnings) and an option that benefited all members of their group.

In between making their decisions, people could gather information about their fellow group members; about the choices of the majority and information about which option paid off best.

Successful cooperation in groups depends on how people gather information about their peers, and how they base their cooperative decisions on it, the findings showed.

The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

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