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    ABSTRACT: At the core of the sense of agency for self-produced action is the sense that I, and not some other agent, am producing and directing those actions. While there is an ever-expanding body of empirical research investigating the sense of agency for bodily action, there has, to date, been little empirical investigation of the sense of agency for thought. The present study uses the novel Mind-to-Mind paradigm, in which the agentive source of a target thought is ambiguous, to measure misattributions of agency. Seventy-two percent of participants made at least one misattribution of agency during a 5-min trial. Misattributions were significantly more frequent when the target thought was an arousing negative thought as compared to a neutral control. The findings establish a novel protocol for measuring the sense of agency for thought, and suggest that both contextual factors and emotional experience play a role in its generation.
    Consciousness and Cognition 04/2013; 22(2):589-602.
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    ABSTRACT: Tattling, defined as the reporting to a second party of norm violations committed by a third party, is a frequent but little-studied activity among young children. Participant observation and quantitative sampling are used to provide a detailed characterization of tattling in 2 preschools (initial mean age = 4.08 years, N = 40). In these populations, tattling represents the majority of talk about peers' behavior to third parties. It is usually truthful, it rarely refers to transgressions committed against other individuals, it is not often ignored by adults, it is performed more frequently by dominant children, and it correlates with teacher reports of relational aggression. These exploratory results suggest several new avenues of research into children's developing understanding of social norms.
    Child Development 04/2010; 81(3):945-57.
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    ABSTRACT: An evolutionary psychological perspective has much to offer the study of Internet behavior. However, cyber-psychologists have hitherto neglected this rich theoretical tradition and evolutionary psychologists have been slow to apply their perspective to computer-mediated behavior. This paper applies an evolutionary perspective to the study of Internet behavior in four relevant domains: (1) mating and sexual competition, (2) parenting and kinship, (3) trust and social exchange, and (4) personal information management. Both general and specific evolutionary theories are explored in relation to online behavior in each domain, with an emphasis on generating testable hypotheses for future research.
    Computers in Human Behavior 11/2009;
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    ABSTRACT: Many theoretical claims about the folk concept of moral responsibility coming from the current literature are indeterminate because researchers do not clearly specify the folk concept of moral responsibility in question. The article pursues a cognitive approach to folk concepts that pays special attention to this indeterminacy problem. After addressing the problem, the article provides evidence on folk attributions of moral responsibility in the case a failed attempt to kill that goes against a specific claim coming from the current literature - that the dimension of causation is part of the structure of the folk concept of moral responsibility.
    Journal of Cognition and Culture 09/2009; 9(3):171-194.
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we discuss the range of concerns people weigh when evaluating the acceptability of harmful actions and propose a new perspective on the relationship between harm and morality. With this aim, we examine Kelly, Stich, Haley, Eng and Fessler's [Kelly, D., Stich, S., Haley, K., Eng, S., & Fessler, D. (2007). Harm, affect, and the moral/conventional distinction. Mind and Language, 22, 117-131] recent claim that, contrary to Turiel and associates, people do not judge harm to be authority independent and general in scope in the context of complex harmful scenarios (e.g., prisoner interrogation, military training). In a modified replication of their study, we examined participants' judgments of harmful actions in these contexts by taking into account their explanations for their judgments. We claim that both in terms of participants' judgments and rationales, the results largely confirm our hypothesis that actions involving harm andinjustice or rights violation are judged to be authority independent and general in scope, which is a modification of Turiel's traditional hypothesis.
    Cognition 08/2009; 113(1):80-92.
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, a modified dictator game was used to test the hypothesis that the threat of gossip would encourage prosocial decision making. All participants were asked to distribute an endowment between themselves and an anonymous second party. Half of the participants were told that the second party would be discussing their economic decision with a third party. For some participants, this third party was someone to whom they had first disclosed personally identifying information. Participants who received the threat of gossip manipulation were more generous than control participants, but only when the third party could personally identify them was this difference significant. These data reveal that at least some prosocial decisions are motivated by actor's reputational concerns—concerns that are directly mediated by language.
    Evolution and Human Behavior - EVOL HUM BEHAV. 01/2008; 29(3).
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    ABSTRACT: The present article examines how people's belief in an afterlife, as well as closely related supernatural beliefs, may open an empirical backdoor to our understanding of the evolution of human social cognition. Recent findings and logic from the cognitive sciences contribute to a novel theory of existential psychology, one that is grounded in the tenets of Darwinian natural selection. Many of the predominant questions of existential psychology strike at the heart of cognitive science. They involve: causal attribution (why is mortal behavior represented as being causally related to one's afterlife? how are dead agents envisaged as communicating messages to the living?), moral judgment (why are certain social behaviors, i.e., transgressions, believed to have ultimate repercussions after death or to reap the punishment of disgruntled ancestors?), theory of mind (how can we know what it is "like" to be dead? what social-cognitive strategies do people use to reason about the minds of the dead?), concept acquisition (how does a common-sense dualism interact with a formalized socio-religious indoctrination in childhood? how are supernatural properties of the dead conceptualized by young minds?), and teleological reasoning (why do people so often see their lives as being designed for a purpose that must be accomplished before they perish? how do various life events affect people's interpretation of this purpose?), among others. The central thesis of the present article is that an organized cognitive "system" dedicated to forming illusory representations of (1) psychological immortality, (2) the intelligent design of the self, and (3) the symbolic meaning of natural events evolved in response to the unique selective pressures of the human social environment.
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11/2006; 29(5):453-62; discussion 462-98.
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