The Influence of Social Interaction on Intuitions of Objectivity and Subjectivity

Cogn Sci. 2017 May;41(4):1119-1134. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12380. Epub 2016 Jun 1.


We present experimental evidence that people's modes of social interaction influence their construal of truth. Participants who engaged in cooperative interactions were less inclined to agree that there was an objective truth about that topic than were those who engaged in a competitive interaction. Follow-up experiments ruled out alternative explanations and indicated that the changes in objectivity are explained by argumentative mindsets: When people are in cooperative arguments, they see the truth as more subjective. These findings can help inform research on moral objectivism and, more broadly, on the distinctive cognitive consequences of different types of social interaction.

Keywords: Argumentation; Cooperation; Meta-ethics; Objectivity; Social interaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Intuition*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals
  • Young Adult