Cognitive systems for revenge and forgiveness
ABSTRACT Minimizing the costs that others impose upon oneself and upon those in whom one has a fitness stake, such as kin and allies, is a key adaptive problem for many organisms. Our ancestors regularly faced such adaptive problems (including homicide, bodily harm, theft, mate poaching, cuckoldry, reputational damage, sexual aggression, and the infliction of these costs on one's offspring, mates, coalition partners, or friends). One solution to this problem is to impose retaliatory costs on an aggressor so that the aggressor and other observers will lower their estimates of the net benefits to be gained from exploiting the retaliator in the future. We posit that humans have an evolved cognitive system that implements this strategy - deterrence - which we conceptualize as a revenge system. The revenge system produces a second adaptive problem: losing downstream gains from the individual on whom retaliatory costs have been imposed. We posit, consequently, a subsidiary computational system designed to restore particular relationships after cost-imposing interactions by inhibiting revenge and motivating behaviors that signal benevolence for the harmdoer. The operation of these systems depends on estimating the risk of future exploitation by the harmdoer and the expected future value of the relationship with the harmdoer. We review empirical evidence regarding the operation of these systems, discuss the causes of cultural and individual differences in their outputs, and sketch their computational architecture.
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ABSTRACT: The prospect of receiving a monetary sanction for free riding has been shown to increase contributions to public goods. We ask whether the impulse to punish is unresponsive to the cost to the punisher, or whether, like other preferences, it interacts with prices to generate a conventional demand curve. In a series of experiments, we randomly vary the cost of reducing the earnings of other group members following voluntary contribution decisions. In our design, new groups are formed after each interaction and no subject faces any other more than once, so there is no strategic reason to punish. We nonetheless find significant levels of punishment, and we learn that both price and the extent to which the recipient's contribution is below the group mean are significant determinants of the quantity of punishment demanded. Moreover, punishment is mainly directed at free riders even when it costs nothing to the punisher.Games and Economic Behavior 01/2003; DOI:10.1016/j.geb.2004.08.007 · 0.83 Impact Factor
Article: Culpable causation.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: "Culpable causation" refers to the influence of the perceived blameworthiness of an action on judgments of its causal impact on a harmful outcome. Four studies were conducted to show that when multiple forces contribute to an unfortunate outcome, people select the most blameworthy act as the prepotent causal factor. In Study 1, an actor was cited more frequently as the primary cause of an accident when his reason for speeding was to hide a vial of cocaine than when it was to hide his parents' anniversary gift. In Study 2, of the 4 acts that produced an unfortunate outcome, the most blameworthy act was cited as the factor with the greatest causal impact. Study 3 found that greater causal influence was perceived throughout a causal chain when the act that engaged the chain was positive rather than negative. Finally, Study 4 found that both traditional causal factors (i.e., necessity and sufficiency) and culpable factors influenced perceived causation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 08/1992; 63(3):368-378. DOI:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1998 · 5.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Using the trait of shyness as an example, the authors showed that (a) it is possible to reliably assess individual differences in the implicitly measured self-concept of personality that (b) are not accessible through traditional explicit self-ratings and (c) increase significantly the prediction of spontaneous behavior in realistic social situations. A total of 139 participants were observed in a shyness-inducing laboratory situation, and they completed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and explicit self-ratings of shyness. The IAT correlated moderately with the explicit self-ratings and uniquely predicted spontaneous (but not controlled) shy behavior, whereas the explicit ratings uniquely predicted controlled (but not spontaneous) shy behavior (double dissociation). The distinction between spontaneous and controlled behavior was validated in a 2nd study.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 09/2002; 83(2):380-393. DOI:10.1037//0022-35188.8.131.520 · 5.08 Impact Factor