The surprise minimization principle has been applied to explain various cognitive processes in humans. Originally describing perceptual and active inference, the framework has been applied to different types of decision making including long-term policies, utility maximization and exploration. This analysis extends the application of surprise minimization (also known as free energy principle) to a multi-agent setup and shows how it can explain the emergence of social rules and cooperation. We further show that in social decision-making and political policy design, surprise minimization is superior in many aspects to the classical approach of maximizing utility. Surprise minimization shows directly what value freedom of choice can have for social agents and why, depending on the context, they enter into cooperation, agree on social rules, or do nothing of the kind.