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: A growing literature suggests that some entrepreneurs lie to investors in order to improve the likelihood of acquiring resources needed for firm survival and growth. We propose a framework outlining the conditions that may enable an investor who has been told a lie by an entrepreneur to respond with forgiveness rather than by withdrawing from the relationship. Integrating the literatures on evolutionary psychology, forgiveness, and stakeholder theory we argue that investor's appraisals of expected relationship value and expected exploitation risk are the key antecedents to an investor's decision to forgive an entrepreneur's lie.Journal of Business Venturing 09/2014; 29:741-754. DOI:10.1016/j.jbusvent.2013.08.005 · 3.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study examined the neural correlates of punishment and forgiveness of initiators of social exclusion (i.e., "excluders"). Participants divided money in a modified Dictator Game between themselves and people who previously either included or excluded them during a virtual ball-tossing game (Cyberball). Participants selectively punished the excluders by decreasing their outcomes; even when this required participants to give up monetary rewards. Punishment of excluders was associated with increased activation in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) and bilateral anterior insula. Costly punishment was accompanied by higher activity in the pre-SMA compared to punishment that resulted in gains or was non-costly. Refraining from punishment (i.e., forgiveness) was associated with self-reported perspective-taking and increased activation in the bilateral temporo-parietal junction, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings show that social exclusion can result in punishment as well as forgiveness of excluders, and that separable neural networks implicated in social cognition and cognitive control are recruited when people either choose to punish or to forgive those who excluded them.Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 03/2014; 10(2). DOI:10.1093/scan/nsu045 · 5.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In this study, we assessed whether retaliatory aggression is used by mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) victims as a way to enforce a reduction in further received aggression. Four possible types of retaliatory aggression were explored: direct or indirect and immediate or time-decoupled retal-iation. Both immediate direct retaliation (counteraggression) and immediate indirect retaliation (kin-oriented redirected aggression, that is, redirected aggression aimed at the original aggressor's kin) were observed, but only the latter was effective in reducing the risk of renewed aggression by the original aggressor. Depending on the exact definition of functional punishment one is adopt-ing, these results may be interpreted as suggesting kin-oriented redirected aggression represents a previously overlooked form of punishment based on the infliction of indirect costs.Behaviour 01/2014; 151(6):841-859. DOI:10.1163/1568539X-00003174 · 1.40 Impact Factor