Cooperative decisions are well predicted by stable individual differences in social values but it remains unclear how they may be modulated by emotions such as fear and anger. Moving beyond specific decision paradigms, we used a suite of economic games and investigated how experimental inductions of fear or anger affect latent factors of decision making in individuals with selfish or prosocial value orientations. We found that, relative to experimentally induced anger, induced fear elicited higher scores on a cooperation factor, and that this effect was entirely driven by selfish participants. In fact, induced fear brought selfish individuals to cooperate similarly to prosocial individuals, possibly as a (selfish) mean to seek protection in others. These results suggest that two basic threat-related emotions, fear and anger, differentially affect a generalized form of cooperation and that this effect is buffered by prosocial value orientation.
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