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Abstract

It feels easy and intuitive to make decisions about welfare tradeoffs — decisions pitting personal welfare against the welfare of someone else. Just because something feels easy, however, does not mean the computations that give rise to it are simple. We review evidence that natural selection has designed a series of internal regulatory variables that encode features of the other person (e.g., kinship, formidability, cooperative value) and the situation (e.g., the magnitude of the welfare at stake). These variables combine into a final variable, a welfare tradeoff ratio, which determines welfare tradeoffs. Moreover, some emotions, such as anger and forgiveness, function to update welfare tradeoff ratios in your mind and the minds of others. Conscious simplicity hides complex evolved design.

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... However, in this article we focus on an aspect of perceived interdependence that has received far less empirical attention-shared fate with a specific other (e.g., Brown, 1999;Wilson & Sober, 1994). Shared fate has a powerful influence on shaping cooperative interactions-when the fates of two or more individuals are yoked together, they are more likely to behave prosocially (Campbell, 1965;Foster, 1965;Olson, 1965) and to enhance the welfare of another even at a personal cost (Aktipis et al., 2011Delton, 2010;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). Despite the power that shared fate has in shaping cooperative relationships, individual-level perceptions of shared fate have remained largely unstudied. ...
... In addition, we aimed to measure a related aspect of shared fate: the emotional reactions that one has to the outcomes of interdependent others (Gervais & Fessler, 2017;Sznycer & Lukaszewski, 2019). The inclusion of emotional shared fate in our scale distinguishes our scale from others because it allows us to assess how one's emotional responses to changes in a target's welfare affect interdependence as opposed to focusing on how the value placed on the target's welfare shapes overall affect toward a target (as in welfare trade-off ratios and emotions associated with helping in the absence of reciprocity; Brown, 1999;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby et al., 2008). A measure assessing these emotional changes is useful for a number of reasons, including being able to predict how variation in shared fate with different targets will relate to different behaviors toward those targets (e.g., in crisis situations) and relates to other objective indicators of fitness interdependence (e.g., genetic relatedness). ...
... We included multiple outcome measures in this study to assess the discriminant and predictive validity of our scale compared with existing scales in the literature. Because previous literature has documented the relationships between existing measures of interdependence and willingness to help others (Aron et al., 1991;Brown, 1999;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby et al., 2008), we included multiple measures of willingness to help others as outcome measures to assess differences in the operationalization of willingness to help others that can be attributed our Shared Fate measure. ...
... If one person has a stake in another's welfare, this will affect how much the former values the latter in psychological terms [33,34]. For example, if A's fitness depends on B, then A will feel more warmth for B, more concern for B's welfare, more desire to help, and so on. ...
... A's valuation of B will thus track A's fitness stake in B, albeit imperfectly. This valuation can be quantified as their welfare trade-off ratio (WTR) towards each other [33,34]. WTR is a measure of how much you value another person, relative to how much you value yourself. ...
... WTR is a measure of how much you value another person, relative to how much you value yourself. For example, if A values B half as much as herself, then A's WTR towards B is 0.5, and A will help whenever the benefit (b) to B is more than twice the cost (c) to A. Formally, an organism will help whenever WTR × b > c [33], which is the same as Roberts's [8] formula for helping due to stake (sb > c, where s represents stake), which is itself a generalization of Hamilton's rule (rb > c, [5]) to non-genetic interests in partners. Studies show that WTR predicts people's willingness to cooperate (reviewed by [33,34]). ...
Article
Social organisms often need to know how much to trust others to cooperate. Organisms can expect cooperation from another organism that depends on them (i.e. stake or fitness interdependence), but how do individuals assess fitness interdependence? Here, we extend fitness interdependence into a signalling context: costly helping behaviour can honestly signal one's stake in others, such that those who help are trusted more. We present a mathematical model in which agents help others based on their stake in the recipient's welfare, and recipients use that information to assess whom to trust. At equilibrium, helping is a costly signal of stake: helping is worthwhile for those who value the recipient (and thus will repay any trust), but is not worthwhile for those who do not value the recipient (and thus will betray the trust). Recipients demand signals when they value the signallers less and when the cost of betrayed trust is higher; signal costs are higher when signallers have more incentive to defect. Signalling systems are more likely when the trust games resemble Prisoner's Dilemmas, Stag Hunts or Harmony Games, and are less likely in Snowdrift Games. Furthermore, we find that honest signals need not benefit recipients and can even occur between hostile parties. By signalling their interdependence, organisms benefit from increased trust, even when no future interactions will occur. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The language of cooperation: reputation and honest signalling’.
... However, the conditions under which the experience of war violence actually promotes or reduces altruism, and the psychological mechanisms by which it does so, have received surprisingly little attention in the growing literature on war and social cooperation (see Bauer et al., 2016 for a review). Similarly, calls for more research into inputs to decisionmaking about welfare tradeoffs, and the conditions that moderate them, arise from the psychological literature on welfare tradeoffs (Delton & Robertson, 2016). We contend that the effect of war on altruism will depend on two factors: (i) the social categories to which the target of the altruistic exchange belongs and (ii) perceived threat associated with these categories. ...
... Certain variables, such as kinship and expected reciprocity, follow a clear evolutionary logic according to which the higher the degree of kinship and expected reciprocity associated with another individual, the greater the values placed on another's welfare relative to one's own. Humans' complex mental capabilities, however, extend beyond these fundamental cues for valuing others' welfare and take into account the social context, the interest of the wider group and cues that can quickly increase knowledge about the other when making welfare tradeoffs (Delton & Robertson, 2016). Understanding these cues can provide important social psychological insights about the conditions under which we are willing to place the welfare of others first as well as the mechanisms underlying antisocial behavior and attitudes, such as prejudice and discrimination. ...
... The results also have implications for the welfare tradeoff ratio (WTR) perspective. According to this perspective we use social cues, emotions and threat perceptions to regulate the value we place on the welfare of others relative to our own welfare (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby & Cosmides, 2008). The results provide support for this process, demonstrating the importance of cross-cutting social categories, and the threats they pose, in determining WTRs. ...
Article
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How does war shape human altruism? Some find warfare increases generosity within groups only. Others maintain that war's prosocial effects extend to outgroup members as well. To make sense of these disparate findings, we offer a theoretical framework that highlights the role of threat sensitivity in altruism. Refugees from Syria and Iraq (N = 1521) completed a welfare tradeoff task and threat perceptions scale where the other's group identity, gender and age were experimentally varied. We found that individuals belonging to social categories associated with more threat (outgroup members, males, and younger individuals) were afforded less altruism compared to individuals belonging to non-threatening social categories (ingroup members, females and the elderly). War exposure enhanced bias against threatening social categories through increased threat-sensitivity. Our results have implications for understanding how warfare shapes altruism and welfare tradeoffs in light of cross-cutting social categories and for policies promoting post-conflict cooperation.
... And, critically, how do they make that decision? To address these questions, we leverage previous research in psychology on people's tradeoffs toward others (Delton and Robertson, 2016;Tooby et al. 2008). We adapt previous methods to measure participants' willingness to sacrifice varying amounts to help or hurt political parties. ...
... To understand how voters make tradeoffs toward parties, we can look at previous work in psychology on how people make tradeoffs toward individuals. Tradeoffs abound in social life, and the mind appears to have dedicated psychological abilities for making them (Delton and Robertson 2016;Sell, Tooby, and Cosmides 2009;Smith et al. 2017). Friends decide whether to help each other, parents decide how much to sacrifice for their children, and leaders decide whose interests to prioritize. ...
... People compute tradeoff ratios automatically, quickly, and effortlessly, without requiring conscious reasoning. Although we experience these computations as vague feelings, the underlying cognitive processes are precise and sophisticated, analogous to the precise computations that unconsciously regulate vision and language (Delton 2010;Delton and Robertson 2016). To guide decisions, the mind uses welfare tradeoff ratios to index how much another person's welfare is worth compared to one's own. ...
Article
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How much will people sacrifice to support or oppose political parties? Extending previous work on the psychology of interpersonal cooperation, we propose that people's minds compute a distinct cost-benefit ratio-a welfare tradeoff ratio-that regulates their choices to help or hurt political parties. In two experiments, participants decide whether to financially help and hurt the inparty and outparty. The results show that participants were extremely consistent (>90%) while making dozens of decisions in a randomized order, providing evidence for tradeoff ratios toward parties. Moreover, participants' ratios correlated in the expected directions with partisanship, political ideology, and feelings of enthusiasm and anger toward each party, corroborating that these ratios are politically meaningful. Generally, most participants were willing to sacrifice at least some money to help their inparty and hurt the outparty. At the same time, a sizable minority hurt their inparty and helped their outparty. Welfare tradeoff ratios push our understanding of partisanship beyond the classic debate about whether voters are rational or irrational. Underneath the turbulent surface of partisan passions hide precise calculations that proportion our altruism and spite toward parties. 2
... The tasks used were the UG, trust game (e.g. Berg et al. 1995), welfare tradeoff allocations (Delton and Robertson 2016;Tooby et al. 2008), and a selling/buying task inspired by classic demonstrations of the endowment effect (e.g. Kahneman et al. 1990Kahneman et al. , 1991. ...
... Consistent with this, the endowment effect is reversed among friends, for whom gift giving is considered more appropriate than profit-seeking (Mandel 2006). Finally, welfare tradeoffs are designed to measure the value that one person places on another person's welfare relative to their own, which is expected to be increased by both threat potential (in order to avoid violent retaliation) and value as a social or cooperative partner (Delton and Robertson 2016;Tooby et al. 2008). ...
... Welfare Tradeoff Ratios Welfare tradeoff ratios (WTR) are proposed to be an internal regulatory variable that governs the division of costs and benefits within relationships (Delton and Robertson 2016;Tooby et al. 2008). We measured WTR with a task in which participants made a series of 10 choices (in a random order) between pairs of resource allocations which would either result in $1 for their partner (and nothing for themselves) or variable amounts between $0.05 and $0.70 for themselves (and nothing for their partner). ...
Article
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Objective The ability to divide resources is crucial for a social and cooperative species like humans, but how humans divide resources remains unclear. Recent results using economic games have suggested conflicting models: The ‘partner choice’ perspective argues that generosity is (in part) a bid for an ongoing cooperative relationship, so generosity is expected to be elicited by cues of cooperative partner value. The ‘threat premium’ perspective argues that generosity is (in part) an attempt to avoid violent retaliation, so generosity is expected to be elicited by cues of threat potential. Methods We tested these competing hypotheses using a dyad study in which pairs of undergraduate participants (N = 312) had a half-hour face-to-face conversation, evaluated each other on components of cooperative partner value and physical dominance, and completed 4 economic tasks comprising 7 resource division decisions. Results Generosity was uniquely predicted by cues of the ability to produce material benefits in an ancestral environment, this effect was stronger for men, and generosity tracked other measures of social attraction. In contrast, the partner’s physical dominance did not predict generosity. Conclusions We observed support for the partner choice approach to resource divisions. Implications for the study of social preferences and resource divisions are discussed.
... B 376: 20200300 larger value of s suggests that the individual will be more likely to act altruistically, i.e. to provide a benefit to the recipient despite the personal cost this entails. Similarly, welfare tradeoff ratio (WTR), which refers to the extent to which a person values another's welfare relative to their own [54], can be considered a proximal mechanism driven by fitness interdependence. Thus, the higher fitness interdependence one has with someone else, the higher one's WTR towards this other person. ...
... Second, individuals' observable actions towards others in social interactions may also signal their fitness interdependence with others. For instance, when an individual incurs a cost to help another, this helping behaviour can signal that the helper values the recipient, and has enough stake in the welfare of the recipient who may repay with subsequent trust, implying that the helper has positive fitness interdependence with the recipient [54,63]. Third, partners' emotion expressions can be used to assess one's fitness interdependence with partners. ...
Article
Gossip, or sharing information about absent others, has been identified as an effective solution to free rider problems in situations with conflicting interests. Yet, the information transmitted via gossip can be biased, because gossipers may send dishonest information about others for personal gains. Such dishonest gossip makes reputation-based cooperation more difficult to evolve. But when are people likely to share honest or dishonest gossip? We build formal models to provide the theoretical foundation for individuals' gossip strategies, taking into account the gossiper's fitness interdependence with the receiver and the target. Our models across four different games suggest a very simple rule: when there is a perfect match (mismatch) between fitness interdependence and the effect of honest gossip, the gossiper should always be honest (dishonest); however, in the case of a partial match, the gossiper should make a choice based on their fitness interdependence with the receiver and the target and the marginal cost/benefit in terms of pay-off differences caused by possible choices of the receiver and the target in the game. Moreover, gossipers can use this simple rule to make optimal decisions even under noise. We discuss empirical examples that support the predictions of our model and potential extensions. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The language of cooperation: reputation and honest signalling’.
... When sb > c, a larger value of s suggests that the individual will be more likely to act altruistically, i.e., to provide a benefit to the recipient despite of the personal cost this entails. Similarly, welfare-tradeoff-ratio (WTR), which refers to the extent to which a person values another's welfare relative to their own [54], can be considered a proximal mechanism driven by fitness interdependence. Thus, the higher fitness interdependence one has with someone else, the higher their WTR towards these others. ...
... Second, individuals' observable actions towards others in social interactions may also signal their fitness interdependence with others. For instance, when an individual incurs a cost to help another, this helping behaviour can signal that the helper values the recipient and has enough stake in the welfare of the recipient who may repay with subsequent trust, implying that the helper has positive fitness interdependence with the recipient [54,63]. Third, partners' emotion expressions can be used to assess one's fitness interdependence with partners. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Gossip, or sharing information about absent others, has been identified as an effective solution to free rider problems in situations with conflicting interests. Yet, the information transmitted via gossip can be biased, because gossipers may send dishonest information about others for personal gains. Such dishonest gossip makes reputation-based cooperation more difficult to evolve. But when are people likely to share honest or dishonest gossip? We build formal models to provide the theoretical foundation for individuals’ gossip strategies taking into account the gossiper’s fitness interdependence with the receiver and the target. Our models across four different games suggest a very simple rule: when there is a perfect match (mismatch) between fitness interdependence and the effect of honest gossip, the gossiper should always be honest (dishonest); however, in case of a partial match, the gossiper should make a choice based on their fitness interdependence with the receiver and the target and the marginal cost/benefit in terms of payoff differences caused by possible choices of the receiver and the target in the game. Moreover, gossipers can use this simple rule to make optimal decisions even under noise. We discuss empirical examples that support the predictions of our model and potential extensions.
... Although interpersonal value is strongly influenced by kinship, it is also shaped by, among other things, mutual valuation, as occurs in friendships, and inclinations to engage in reciprocity, as occurs in exchange partners (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). These disparate sources of benefits are putatively integrated into a welfare-trade-off ratio (WTR)-an individual's willingness to trade off his or her welfare for that of another (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Kirkpatrick, Delton, Robertson, & de Wit, 2015;Smith, Pedersen, Forster, McCullough, & Lieberman, 2017;Tooby, Cosmides, Sell, Lieberman, & Sznycer, 2008). We used tasks that measure willingness to trade-off one's own welfare for that of another to investigate whether comfort with potentially infectious contact tracks interpersonal value. ...
... To assess interpersonal value, we used a WTR task (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Kirkpatrick et al., 2015;Smith et al., 2017). In this task, participants are asked to select one of two options, the first of which involves the participant receiving money, and the second of which involves the target receiving money. ...
Article
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Behavioral-immune-system research has illuminated how people detect and avoid signs of infectious disease. But how do we regulate exposure to pathogens that produce no symptoms in their hosts? This research tested the proposition that estimates of interpersonal value are used for this task. The results of three studies (N = 1,694), each conducted using U.S. samples, are consistent with this proposition: People are less averse to engaging in infection-risky acts not only with friends relative to foes but also with honest and agreeable strangers relative to dishonest and disagreeable ones. Further, a continuous measure of how much a person values a target covaries with comfort with infection-risky acts with that target, even within relationship categories. Findings indicate that social prophylactic motivations arise not only from cues to infectiousness but also from interpersonal value. Consequently, pathogen transmission within social networks might be exacerbated by relaxed contamination aversions with highly valued social partners.
... For example, if a participant believed the offender would choose to get US$35 themselves over directing US$75 to the victim but believed the offender would give up the opportunity to get US$25 to deliver US$75 to the victim, the valuation score would be calculated as the average of the ratios bounding this switch point (35 / 75 + 25 / 75) / 2 = 0.40. By taking note of the switch point, it becomes possible to infer participants' perceptions of offenders' WTRs toward victims (Delton, 2010;Delton & Robertson, 2016). 3 Here, scores were bounded at 0 and 1.13 with greater numbers representing greater inferred valuation. ...
... Trade-off decisions are often made quickly and intuitively (Delton & Robertson, 2016). Although the WTR computations are somewhat complex, from participants' perspective regarding each trade-off decision (which were presented in random order), they were simply selecting options that felt appropriate for each decision and were likely unaware that their choices were assessing precise welfare trade-off switch points. ...
Article
On hearing of others’ offenses, people frequently intervene to encourage offenders to correct their wrongs. However, externally imposed reconciliatory behaviors may not effectively convince outside observers that offenders value victims’ welfare and deserve forgiveness. Four studies examined meta-judgments of victim valuation and offender forgivability when restitution was initiated voluntarily versus externally coerced. The same compensatory actions produced greater perceived valuation/forgivability when atonement was voluntary versus court-ordered (Experiment 1). Across multiple harm/measure types, voluntary (vs. imposed) atonement consistently yielded greater valuation/forgivability, but differences between imposed and no-atonement conditions were not captured using indirect valuation measures (Experiments 2–3). Experiment 3 also showed that voluntary (vs. imposed) atonement positively influenced perceivers’ inferences about their own valuation. In Experiment 4, observers perceived greater valuation/forgivability when restitution was made voluntarily rather than imposed by an intervener or requested by the victim. These studies highlight that beyond their compensatory acts, offenders’ volition to atone influences third-party evaluations.
... Although interpersonal value is strongly influenced by kinship, it is also shaped by, among other things, mutual valuation, as occurs in friendships, and inclinations to engage in reciprocity, as occurs in exchange partners (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). These disparate sources of benefits are putatively integrated into a welfare-trade-off ratio (WTR)-an individual's willingness to trade off his or her welfare for that of another (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Kirkpatrick, Delton, Robertson, & de Wit, 2015;Smith, Pedersen, Forster, McCullough, & Lieberman, 2017;Tooby, Cosmides, Sell, Lieberman, & Sznycer, 2008). We used tasks that measure willingness to trade-off one's own welfare for that of another to investigate whether comfort with potentially infectious contact tracks interpersonal value. ...
... To assess interpersonal value, we used a WTR task (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Kirkpatrick et al., 2015;Smith et al., 2017). In this task, participants are asked to select one of two options, the first of which involves the participant receiving money, and the second of which involves the target receiving money. ...
Preprint
Behavioral immune system research has illuminated how people detect and avoid signs of infectious disease. But how do we regulate exposure to pathogens that produce no symptoms in their hosts? This manuscript tests the proposition that estimates of interpersonal value are used for this task. Three studies (N = 1694), each conducted using U.S. samples, are consistent with this proposition: people are less averse to engaging in infection-risky acts not only with friends relative to foes, but also with honest and agreeable strangers relative to dishonest and disagreeable ones. Further, a continuous measure of how much a person values a target covaries with comfort with infection-risky acts with that target, even within relationship categories. Findings indicate that social prophylactic motivations arise not only from cues to infectiousness, but also interpersonal value. Consequently, pathogen transmission within social networks might be exacerbated by relaxed contamination aversions with highly valued social partners.
... This internal variable has been termed welfare trade-off ratio (WTR) (Tooby et al., 2008). Recent research suggests that WTRs have many of the properties that one would expect to see in an index of human social valuation (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Sell et al., 2017). First, WTRs are target specific (Delton, 2010;Forster, Pedersen, Smith, McCullough, & Lieberman, 2017). ...
... The Extraversion factor may descriptively capture the outputs of motivational mechanisms for navigating hierarchies (Anderson, John, & Keltner, 2012;Bernard, 2010;Cheng et al., 2010;Kyl-Heku & Buss, 1996;Neel, Kenrick, White, & Neuberg, 2016;von Rueden et al., 2015;Wood & Harms, 2017), avoiding disease (Schaller & Murray, 2008), and attracting mates (Nettle, 2006). The WTRs individuals hold toward others-and those they expect to receive from others-likely influence many aspects of prosocial and aggressive behaviour (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Sell, 2011;Sznycer & Lukaszewski, 2019;Tooby et al., 2008). Similarly, various psychological mechanisms may calibrate their operation in response to the values stored in internal regulatory variables for indexing one's social value to others (Denissen et al., 2008;Leary et al., 1995), representing the features of interdependent situations , and estimating one's own mortality risk (Del Giudice, Gangestad, & Kaplan, 2015). ...
Article
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The field of personality psychology aspires to construct an overarching theory of human nature and individual differences: one that specifies the psychological mechanisms that underpin both universal and variable aspects of thought, emotion, and behaviour. Here, we argue that the adaptationist toolkit of evolutionary psychology provides a powerful meta‐theory for characterizing the psychological mechanisms that give rise to within‐person, between‐person, and cross‐cultural variations. We first outline a mechanism‐centred adaptationist framework for personality science, which makes a clear ontological distinction between (i) psychological mechanisms designed to generate behavioural decisions and (ii) heuristic trait concepts that function to perceive, describe, and influence others behaviour and reputation in everyday life. We illustrate the utility of the adaptationist framework by reporting three empirical studies. Each study supports the hypothesis that the anger programme—a putative emotional adaptation—is a behaviour‐regulating mechanism whose outputs are described in the parlance of the person description factor called ‘Agreeableness’. We conclude that the most productive way forward is to build theory‐based models of specific psychological mechanisms, including their culturally evolved design features, until they constitute a comprehensive depiction of human nature and its multifaceted variations. © 2020 European Association of Personality Psychology
... The ultimatum and dictator games are classics of experimental economics, meant to capture important prosocial and punitive tendencies that matter for the functioning of societies large and small (e.g., Henrich et al., 2005). Welfare trade-off allocations and their estimates are less commonly measured, but these constructs are hypothesized to underlie a wide range of social decisions (Delton & Robertson, 2016). Importantly, each of these tasks involves considering another person's welfare, outcome, or decision making, such that they are prime examples of the kind of economic tasks that should show differences due to suspicion of deception (e.g., deception about sham partners). ...
... Welfare trade-off allocation All participants first completed a welfare trade-off allocation task (see Delton & Robertson, 2016). After completing practice allocations, participants made 12 forced choice decisions between allocating a varying amount of money ($0.05-$0.70) ...
Article
Deceiving participants about the goals or content of a study is permitted in psychological research but is largely banned in economics journals and subject pools. This ban is intended to protect a public good: If experiencing deception causes participants to be suspicious in future studies, and suspicion meaningfully influences their behavior, then the entire field suffers. We report a survey of psychologists’ and economists’ attitudes toward deception (N = 568) and a large, nondeceptive multisite study in which we measured participants’ histories, suspicion levels, and behavior in four common economic tasks (N = 636). Economists reported more negative attitudes toward deceptive methods and greater support for the deception ban than did psychologists. The results of the behavioral study, however, do not support the “public good” argument for banning deception about the goals or content of a research study: Participants’ present suspicion was not clearly related to past experiences of deception, and there were no consistent behavioral differences between suspicious and credulous participants. We discuss the implications of these results for the ongoing debate regarding the acceptability of deceptive research methods.
... We conceptualize pro-sociality and altruism as the willingness to compromise one's own welfare for the sake of the welfare of someone else. In determining whether or not to trade off our personal welfare to enhance the welfare of someone else, we carry out a mental computation, determining the relative value afforded to our own and the other's welfare (Delton & Robertson, 2016). In order to calculate welfare trade-offs, people are dependent on input that determines the relative importance of the welfare of the target individual (Cosmides & Tooby, 2013;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby, Cosmides, Sell, Lieberman, & Sznycer, 2008). ...
... In determining whether or not to trade off our personal welfare to enhance the welfare of someone else, we carry out a mental computation, determining the relative value afforded to our own and the other's welfare (Delton & Robertson, 2016). In order to calculate welfare trade-offs, people are dependent on input that determines the relative importance of the welfare of the target individual (Cosmides & Tooby, 2013;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby, Cosmides, Sell, Lieberman, & Sznycer, 2008). There are a number of such inputs including kinship, formidability, reciprocity, and emotion. ...
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A survey experiment, carried out in a field setting among Sunni Arab Syrian refugees ( N = 2,479), examined the effect of exposure to wartime trauma, ethnoreligious group affiliation, and degree of hostility of intergroup relations on altruism and positive emotional regard. The results showed that in-group targets were met with more positive emotional regard and altruism than relatively neutral out-group targets, which in turn were met with more positive emotional regard and altruism than individuals from a hostile out-group. These tendencies were elevated among participants with a high degree of exposure to wartime trauma. Emotions mediated the effect of ethnoreligious group affiliation on altruism, and this mediating effect was moderated by exposure to wartime trauma.
... In the world, women earn less economic income than men due to prevailing gender inequalities. With women gaining important positions in business life and earning more economic income now, they become less tolerant of problems in marriage (Delton, 2016). However, women are forced to work part-time or sometimes not to work at all due to their responsibilities at home. ...
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This study aims to unfold the changing home phenomenon for all family members in the divorce process from different perspectives in the context of feeling like home again. This is a descriptive document review study. The data source of the research consists of articles published and the search made using the keywords divorce, post-divorce parenting, consequences of divorce, home-making practices, and post-divorce sense of belonging. Although the divorce process brings about physical and relational changes in the family structure and hence the home environment, all family members can overcome these painful times with minimum trauma and even have higher well-being than in the pre-divorce period. The children can continue a relationship of love and trust with their parents, and former spouses can withstand the burden brought by divorce much more quickly by feeling like home again.
... However, when evading observers is impractical, the static shame -display‖, or camouflage, may still confer some measure of invisibility, albeit to a lesser (and less literal) degree. This camouflage may be effective at interfering with the audience's attention, face-processing, identification, recognition, encoding, and other information-gathering pre-requisites for devaluing wrongdoers or -undesirables‖ (i.e., via down-regulation of welfare tradeoff ratio; see Delton & Robertson, 2016) and thus at interfering with the behaviors that result from that devaluation (e.g., disassociation, condemnation, banishment). The static shame -display‖-as-camouflage may confer its producer a measure of invisibility both when occluding one's face with a top hat (see Figure 3) and in less extreme cases such as in the prototypical shame -display‖ ( Figure 2). ...
Article
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The shame system appears to be natural selection's solution to the adaptive problem of information-triggered reputational damage. Over evolutionary time, this problem would have led to a coordinated set of adaptations—the shame system—designed to minimize the spread of negative information about the self and the likelihood and costs of being socially devalued by others. This information threat theory of shame can account for much of what we know about shame and generate precise predictions. Here, we analyze the behavioral configuration that people adopt stereotypically when ashamed—slumped posture, downward head tilt, gaze avoidance, inhibition of speech—in light of shame's hypothesized function. This behavioral configuration may have differentially favored its own replication by ( i ) hampering the transfer of information (e.g., diminishing audiences’ tendency to attend to or encode identifying information: shame camouflage ) and/or ( ii ) evoking less severe devaluative responses from audiences (shame display ). The shame display hypothesis has received considerable attention and empirical support, whereas the shame camouflage hypothesis has to our knowledge not been advanced or tested. We elaborate on this hypothesis and suggest directions for future research on the shame pose.
... How could this bid be instantiated? Recent research and theory have identified the "welfare tradeoff ratio" (WTR) as a common psychological architecture used to index precisely this sort of interpersonal valuation (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Krasnow et al., 2016;Tooby et al., 2008). Briefly, a WTR represents the weight someone puts on the welfare of another relative to themselves and implies the cost/benefit ratio above which the person would choose to benefit the other and below which they would not. ...
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The microaggression concept has been discussed in the academic literature and public discourse, but the nature—and even existence—of microaggressions remains controversial. Here, we introduce an evolutionary psychological theory of how microaggressions may result from an evolved cognitive architecture for intergroup bargaining. According to this theory, microaggressions constitute a form of low-cost, plausibly ambiguous intergroup aggression used in contexts of perceived intergroup power equilibria featuring advantageous inequality. The behavioral output of the system in this context is designed to be indirect because more direct communication should readily create common knowledge on the part of the marginalized target group, thus risking a compensatory coordinated outrage response. This approach helps explain the cross-cultural variance in which microaggressions have been remarked upon and where they have not, individual differences in endorsement of the microaggression concept, features of the psychological response to microaggressions, and the selective deployment of bargaining tactics such as the maintenance of group dominance hierarchies.
... According to these theories, kind acts serve not only to provide a benefit to the recipient, but also to communicate the cost the actor is willing to pay to provide that benefit. The cost can signal how much they care, how committed they are to the relationship, their relative status and power, and the chances of them providing benefits in future (Delton & Robertson, 2016). And these signals increase the chances that: they are chosen or retained as a social partner; their relationship with the recipient becomes deeper; the recipient will be there for the actor when they are in future need; and so on (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). ...
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What is kindness, and what makes an act kind? Previous theoretical and empirical research suggests that the kindness of an act depends not only on the benefits the act provides, but also the costs incurred to provide those benefits. Here we test these predictions by having 1,692 candidate acts of kindness (for family, friends, colleagues, and strangers) rated for perceived cost, benefit, and kindness, by a large sample of the US & UK public (Ntotal=16,064). As predicted, we found that benefit, cost, and benefit:cost interaction all positively predicted the kindness of the act (pseudo R2≈0.73), and did so for all types of recipients. We also found that less efficient acts are considered kinder than more efficient acts. We discuss the implications of these findings for discussions about the effectiveness of altruism, and the prospects for further research on the nature of kindness.
... A growing body of evidence suggests that in humans, decisions about whether to deliver or deny help to others are computed by an array of specialized cognitive mechanisms that take in available information about an interaction partner and implement self-other welfare tradeoff decisionsdecisions that adaptively weigh the costs borne by the actor relative to the benefits received by the beneficiary (Lieberman, Tooby, & Cosmides, 2007;Delton, Robertson, 2016;Sznycer, Delton, et al., 2019;Sznycer, De Smet, et al, 2016). Key inputs that humans use to make welfare-tradeoff decisions include cues of genetic relatedness between self and other, the ability and willingness of the other to confer benefits on the self (e.g., skills, willingness to help), and the ability and willingness of the other to inflict costs on the self (e.g., physical formidability). ...
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Reliance on mutual aid is a distinctive characteristic of human biology. Consequently, a central adaptive problem for our ancestors was the potential or actual spread of reputationally damaging information about the self – information that would decrease the inclination of other group members to render assistance. The emotion of shame appears to be the solution engineered by natural selection to defend against this threat. The existing evidence suggests that shame is a neurocomputational program that orchestrates various elements of the cognitive architecture in the service of (i) deterring the individual from making choices wherein the personal benefits are exceeded by the prospective costs of being devalued by others, (ii) preventing negative information about the self from reaching others, and (iii) minimizing the adverse effects of social devaluation when it occurs. The flow of costs (e.g., punishment) and benefits (e.g., income, aid during times of hardship) in human societies is regulated to an important extent by this interlinked psychology of social evaluation and shame (as well as other social emotions). For example, the intensity of shame that laypeople express at the prospect of committing each of various offenses closely matches the intensity of the actual offense-specific punishments called for by criminal laws, including modern laws and ancient laws that are millennia old. Because shame, like pain, causes personal suffering and sometimes leads to hostile behavior, shame has been termed a “maladaptive” and “ugly” emotion. However, an evolutionary psychological analysis suggests that the shame system is elegantly designed to deter injurious choices and make the best of a bad situation.
... Altruism. Participants indicated their altruism toward targets by completing the welfare tradeoff task (Cosmides & Tooby, 2013;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Kirkpatrick, Delton, Robertson, & de Wit, 2015). This instrument measures the degree to which the subject values their own welfare relative to the welfare of another individual. ...
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Exposure to war-related violence is associated with greater pro-social behavior. Although researchers point to empathy and individual differences in posttraumatic growth to explain this relationship, there is no direct empirical evidence of the psychological process by which exposure to wartime violence leads to pro-sociality. In this investigation, we propose and test a comprehensive model of empathy-mediated altruism that addresses both how and when exposure to violence may be associated with pro-sociality. Results from a large scale survey experiment conducted in a naturalistic field setting (1660 refugees from the wars in Syria and Iraq residing in Turkey) indicate that participants reported greater empathy and altruism toward ingroup versus outgroup targets, and that posttraumatic stress predicted less and posttraumatic growth predicted more empathy and altruism. Further, empathy mediated ingroup biases in altruism (i.e., allocation of resources to the self and others); this indirect effect was stronger for those reporting greater posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic stress. These results support our proposed model of empathy-mediated altruism that incorporates individual differences in response to war violence and ingroup preferences.
... With women's greater earnings comes less interdependence between partners. This could change women's willingness to tolerate annoyances in their marriage by altering their welfare trade-off ratio (i.e. the willingness to sacrifice personal welfare to increase partner's welfare [50]). This framework predicts that many women will be less willing to tolerate unsatisfying treatment from their partners d and more willing to escalate conflicts d because they are in a better position to walk away. ...
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In Western dual-educated, male-female marriages, women who divorce face greater burdens because of decreased income and primary or sole responsibility for caring for children than men who divorce. Why, then, do these women initiate divorce more and fare better psychologically after a divorce than men? Here, we articulate an evolutionary mismatch perspective, informed by key findings in relationship science. We argue that mismatches between women's evolved preferences and configurations of modern marriage often clash, producing dissatisfaction. Women's unprecedented career ascendance also affords women ever more freedom to leave. We discuss pressures from social expectations for men and women that contribute to or compound these vulnerabilities. We conclude with key questions for future research, which can contribute to strategies for mitigating relationship dissatisfaction and the profound loss and pain that results from divorce.
... The social emotions can be understood as a subset of emotions that solve problems of sociality (Tooby, 1985;Tooby & Cosmides, 1990;Nesse, 1990;Ekman, 1992;Keltner & Haidt, 1999;Darwin, 1872). These emotions function in part to recalibrate internal variables of the cognitive architecture, including variables that index the social valuations assigned by self and others Sell et al., 2009;Sznycer, Lopez Seal, et al., 2017;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Al-Shawaf et al., 2016;Al-Shawaf & Lewis, 2017;Sznycer et al., forthcoming). With its emphasis on adaptive problem and adaptive function, this perspective can make sense of many known facts about the social emotions, because natural selection produces close fits between the structure of an adaptive problem and the features of the adaptation that evolved to solve it. ...
Chapter
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Social emotions appear to be behavior-regulating programs built by natural selection to solve adaptive problems in the domain of social valuation-the disposition to attend to, associate with, defer to, and aid target individuals based on their probable contributions to the fitness of the valuer. For example, shame functions to prevent and mitigate the costs of being socially devalued by others, whereas anger functions to correct those people who attach insufficient weight to the welfare of the self. Here we review theory and evidence suggesting that social emotions such as guilt, gratitude, anger, pride, shame, sadness, and envy are all governed by a common grammar of social valuation even when each emotion has its own distinct adaptive function and structure. We also provide evidence that social emotions and social valuation operate with a substantial degree of universality across cultures. This emotion-valuation constellation appears to shape human sociality through interpersonal interactions. Expanding upon this, we explore how signatures of this constellation may be evident in two spheres of human sociality: personality and the criminal justice system.
... Indeed, the reputation consequences of actions may be affected more by the emotions attributed to the actor than to the outcome of the action itself (Yudkin et al., 2019). People rely more on emotions than on outcomes when judging helpful individuals because emotions provide a more reliable cue as to the person's underlying character or disposition (Barasch et al., 2014;Frank, 1991;Hoffman et al., 2015;Levine et al., 2018;Reed et al., 2012) or to the value they place on the relationship (Aktipis et al., 2018;Ames et al., 2004;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Frank, 1991;Hoffman et al., 2015) and are therefore a more reliable guide to how the person might behave in future (see also Hirshleifer, 1987;Singh & Hoffman, 2021). For instance, people who perform prosocial actions but display reluctance or negative emotions while doing so are unlikely to accrue reputation benefits as the negative emotional signal nullifies the positive act (Ames & Johar, 2009;Carlson & Zaki, 2018;Krull et al., 2008). ...
Article
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Performing costly helpful behaviours can allow individuals to improve their reputation. Those who gain a good reputation are often preferred as interaction partners and are consequently better able to access support through cooperative relationships with others. But investing in prosocial displays can sometimes yield social costs: excessively generous individuals risk losing their good reputation, and even being vilified, ostracised or antisocially punished. As a consequence, people frequently try to downplay their prosocial actions or hide them from others. In this review, we explore when and why investments in prosocial behaviour are likely to yield social costs. We propose two key features of interactions that make it more likely that generous individuals will incur social costs when: (i) observers infer that helpful behaviour is motivated by strategic or selfish motives; and (ii) observers infer that helpful behaviour is detrimental to them. We describe how the cognition required to consider ulterior motives emerges over development and how these tendencies vary across cultures - and discuss how the potential for helpful actions to result in social costs might place boundaries on prosocial behaviour as well as limiting the contexts in which it might occur. We end by outlining the key avenues and priorities for future research.
... To measure relationship value, we relied upon a single self-report measure, to assess partner preference, we relied upon a single decision. In the case of relationship value, researchers could strengthen conclusions by conducting conceptual replications that use alternative selfreport measures of relationship value-for example, measures of perceived goal instrumentality 12,13 or welfare tradeoff ratios 50,51 . Additionally, future work should examine whether our observed effects could be detected using behavioral measures (e.g., verbal expressions of social value and forgiveness, or direct benefit-delivery in a subsequent interaction). ...
Article
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Robust evidence supports the importance of apologies for promoting forgiveness. Yet less is known about how apologies exert their effects. Here, we focus on their potential to promote forgiveness by way of increasing perceptions of relationship value. We used a method for directly testing these causal claims by manipulating both the independent variable and the proposed mediator. Namely, we use a 2 (Apology: yes vs. no) × 2 (Value: high vs. low) concurrent double-randomization design to test whether apologies cause forgiveness by affecting the same causal pathway as relationship value. In addition to supporting this causal claim, we also find that apologies had weaker effects on forgiveness when received from high-value transgressors, suggesting that the forgiveness-relevant information provided by apologies is redundant with relationship value. Taken together, these findings from a rigorous methodological paradigm help us parse out how apologies promote relationship repair.
... 6 Abagnale's claim to have cared about the bank tellers' well-being, represented as [ → ] , could be described as indicating that he was not insensitive or callous (Jones & Figueredo, 2013;Paulhus, 2014). And the representations that Abagnale was highly motivated to attain status for different purposes and to accomplish things, have referred to as the Actor's welfare-tradeoff ratio (Delton & Robertson, 2016;Tooby, Cosmides, Sell, Lieberman, & Sznycer, 2008), or other-regarding preference (Gintis, 2009) in other frameworks. ...
Chapter
Personality traits are regularly described as a person's characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and in turn it is regularly assumed that individuals think, feel, and do things they perceive to be most functional. Here, we elaborate on earlier discussions of how functional field models can be used to more rigorously model the psychological processes and dynamics that produce behavior (Wood, Lowman, Harms, & Spain, 2017; Wood, Spain, & Harms, 2017). We particularly focus on how the verbal descriptions people provide to explain their behaviors can be more formally represented and modeled as forces shaping their decisions for how to respond to specific situations. We illustrate how these models can be used to formally represent decision making with a series of progressively more complex field models, beginning with simple single-reason expectancy-value models, and culminating in a model of the reasons Frank Abagnale provided for his decision to embark on an odyssey of high-profile check fraud at age 16, and then to cease these activities at age 21, as recounted in his book Catch Me If You Can. More generally, we discuss how functional field representations can be used to more formally evaluate the coherence of an individual's decision-making processes, to formally represent verbal statements and psychological process variables, and ultimately to identify potential ways we might be able to intervene to alter a person's behavior.
... The notion of 'preferences', or the (often ranked) importance people give to different things or actions, can provide insights into the nature of human decision-making-even a window into the evolutionary history of human decision-making [23,34,35]. This is not to say that these preferences are independent of cultural influence [36]: many factors may contribute to an individual's preferences, including their sentiments-their attitudes and emotions towards particular people [37] (see also [38,39]); their assets, such as their perceived socio-economic status [32] and their housing and food security [40]; and values they have acquired from social transmission and internalized, such as moral culture (notions of what makes other people good or bad [41]). Importantly, individuals cannot always act according to their preferences in real life due to constraints on their behaviour from cultural institutions and social obligations (e.g. when money is requested, one must share [42,43]). ...
Article
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As economic games have spread from experimental economics to other social sciences, so too have critiques of their usefulness for drawing inferences about the 'real world'. What these criticisms often miss is that games can be used to reveal individuals' private preferences in ways that observational and interview data cannot; furthermore, economic games can be designed such that they do provide insights into real-world behaviour. Here, we draw on our collective experience using economic games in field contexts to illustrate how researchers can strategically alter the framing or design of economic games to draw inferences about private-world or real-world preferences. A detailed case study from coastal Colombia provides an example of the subtleties of game design and how games can be combined fruitfully with self-report data. We close with a list of concrete recommendations for how to modify economic games to better match particular research questions and research contexts.
... A few years later, children gain the ability to represent the strengths of different people's preferences, to compare preferences across individuals, and to use these comparisons to make social decisions such as whether to share toys or how to divide snacks (Pietraszewski and Shaw, 2015;Schmidt, Svetlova, Johe, and Tomasello, 2016). By adulthood, people use these cognitive abilities to make tradeoffs between different individuals' preferences, which guides our decisions to cooperate, share, compete, punish, and many other social behaviors (for reviews, see Balliet, Parks, and Joireman, 2009;Charness and Rabin, 2002;Petersen, Sell, Tooby, and Cosmides, 2012), in addition to regulating social emotions such as compassion, gratitude, anger, and forgiveness (Delton, Petersen, DeScioli, and Robertson, 2018;Delton and Robertson, 2016;Sell, Tooby, and Cosmides, 2009). Like most psychological abilities, humans understand preferences intuitively, meaning that we grasp them effortlessly, automatically, and unconsciously, without requiring conscious reasoning (though intuitions may become conscious). ...
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In democracies, majority-rule voting is an esteemed rule for collective decisions, but its hazards have recently become apparent after a series of controversial referendums and ascendant populist leaders. Here, we investigate people’s judgments about when voting is appropriate for collective decisions across five countries with diverse cultures and political institutions (Denmark, Hungary, India, Russia, and USA). Participants read scenarios in which individuals with conflicting preferences need to make a collective decision. They judged whether the group should decide by voting, consensus, leadership, or chance. We experimentally manipulated whether the group contains a vulnerable minority – a smaller number of people with more at stake than the majority. In all five countries, participants generally preferred voting without a vulnerable minority, with relatively greater support for voting in more democratic countries. But, when the group included a vulnerable minority, participants in all countries reduced their support for voting and instead preferred consensus.
... There is reason to believe that both humans and non-human animals calibrate their cooperative and conformist behaviour based on feedback from their social environment. With regards to cooperation, psychological mechanisms integrate cues about both the situation (for example, the presence of an audience) and the target of the interaction (for example, whether the target previously defected) when determining whether or not to cooperate 100 . For example, both chimpanzees 101 and humans 102 are less cooperative in hierarchical or competitive social environments, likely because they perceive potential targets as less trustworthy partners for long-term cooperative relationships. ...
Article
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Research over the last fifty years has suggested that political attitudes and values around the globe are shaped by two ideological dimensions, often referred to as economic and social conservatism. However, it remains unclear why this ideological structure exists. Here we highlight the striking concordance between these dual dimensions of ideology and independent convergent evidence for two key shifts in the evolution of human group living. First, humans began to cooperate more and across wider interdependent networks. Second, humans became more group-minded, conforming to social norms in culturally marked groups and punishing norm-violators. We propose that fitness trade-offs and behavioural plasticity have maintained functional variation in willingness to cooperate and conform within modern human groups, naturally giving rise to the two dimensions of political ideology. Supported by evidence from across the behavioural sciences, this evolutionary framework provides insight into the biological and cultural basis of political ideology. Claessens et al. propose that the two dimensions of political ideology identified by previous research correspond to two key shifts in the evolution of human group living: a shift towards cooperation and a shift towards group conformity.
... Ratings of time, money, moral wrongness, devaluation and shame were given by different participants. Number of participants per condition (US, India): Title 18: time (57,42), money (53,38), moral wrongness (53,41), devaluation (59,41), shame (53,41); Tang Code: time (60,45), money (53,45), moral wrongness (59,47), devaluation (58,43), shame (59,42); Laws of Eshnunna: time (51,40), money (49,38), moral wrongness (48,46), devaluation (51,38), shame (51,45). fines or time in prison. ...
Article
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Laws against wrongdoing may originate in justice intuitions that are part of universal human nature, according to the adaptationist theory of the origins of criminal law. This theory proposes that laws can be traced to neurocognitive mechanisms and ancestral selection pressures. According to this theory, laypeople can intuitively recreate the laws of familiar and unfamiliar cultures, even when they lack the relevant explicit knowledge. Here, to evaluate this prediction, we conduct experiments with Chinese and Sumerian laws that are millennia old; stimuli that preserve in fossil-like form the legal thinking of ancient lawmakers. We show that laypeople’s justice intuitions closely match the logic and content of those archaic laws. We also show covariation across different types of justice intuitions: interpersonal devaluation of offenders, judgements of moral wrongness, mock-legislated punishments and perpetrator shame—suggesting that multiple justice intuitions may be regulated by a common social-evaluative psychology. Although alternative explanations of these findings are possible, we argue that they are consistent with the assumption that the origin of criminal law is a cognitively sophisticated human nature.
... Another important difference between status valuation and other forms of relationship-specific valuation is the finiteness of the benefits that the valued individual generates for others. Within dyadic relationships, each person's intrinsic valuation regulates their willingness to sacrifice for the other (Delton & Robertson, 2016). Moreover, within close dyadic relationships such as pair bonds and friendship alliances, each person's valuation of the other trades off against their valuation of all others in the social environment. ...
Article
We apply recent adaptationist theories about the emotions “pride” and “shame” to the domain of hierarchical status and test the hypothesis that pride and shame are distinct components of a culturally universal statusmanagement system. Using an international dataset containing ratings of the status impacts of 240 personal characteristics within 14 nations (N=2751), we found that (i) the status impacts of personal characteristics were strongly intercorrelated across nations (rs=0.79–0.98); (ii) American's (N=222) forecasts of the pride or shame they would experience if they exhibited those same personal characteristics closely tracked the status impacts across nations (|rs|=0.74–0.98); and (iii) pride differentially tracked status gains, while shame differentially tracked status losses. These findings provide strong supporting evidence for the existence of a universal grammar of status criteria, and suggest that pride and shame are key components of a culturally universal status management system.
... There is reason to believe that both humans and non-human animals calibrate their cooperative and conformist behaviour based on feedback from their social environment. With regards to cooperation, psychological mechanisms integrate cues about both the situation (for example, the presence of an audience) and the target of the interaction (for example, whether the target previously defected) when determining whether or not to cooperate 100 . For example, both chimpanzees 101 and humans 102 are less cooperative in hierarchical or competitive social environments, likely because they perceive potential targets as less trustworthy partners for long-term cooperative relationships. ...
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What determines our views on taxation and crime, healthcare and religion, welfare and gender roles? And why do opinions about these seemingly disparate aspects of our social lives coalesce the way they do? Research over the last 50 years has suggested that political attitudes and values around the globe are shaped by two ideological dimensions, often referred to as economic and social conservatism. However, it remains unclear why this ideological structure exists. Here, we highlight the striking concordance between these two dimensions of ideology and two key aspects of human sociality: cooperation and group conformity. Humans cooperate to a greater degree than our great ape relatives, paying personal costs to benefit others. Humans also conform to group-wide social norms and punish norm violators in interdependent, culturally marked groups. Together, these two shifts in sociality are posited to have driven the emergence of large-scale complex human societies. We argue that fitness trade-offs and behavioural plasticity have maintained strategic individual differences in both cooperation and group conformity, naturally giving rise to the two dimensions of political ideology. Supported by evidence from psychology, behavioural genetics, behavioural economics, and primatology, this evolutionary framework promises novel insight into the biological and cultural basis of political ideology.
... It has been hypothesized that emotions are neurocognitive adaptations designed by natural selection to orchestrate cognition and behavior in the service of solving complex adaptive problems, and that social emotions are a subset of emotions designed to solve adaptive problems of sociality (Darwin, 1872;Ekman, 1992;Keltner & Haidt, 1999;Nesse, 1990;Tooby, 1985;Tooby & Cosmides, 1990). Recalibration appears to be a central aspect of social emotions: These emotions recalibrate internal variables of the cognitive architecture, including, notably, variables that index the social valuations assigned by self and others (Al-Shawaf, Conroy-Beam, Asao, & Buss, 2016;Al-Shawaf & Lewis, 2017;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Sell et al., 2009;Sznycer, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2017;. From this theoretical perspective, different social emotions are different adaptations that evolved to solve different adaptive problems of social valuation and that have different elicitors and outputs. 1 For example: • The gratitude system appears designed to consolidate a higher level of cooperation with a social partner (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008;Lim, 2012;Smith et al., 2017). ...
Article
Social emotions are hypothesized to be adaptations designed by selection to solve adaptive problems pertaining to social valuation—the disposition to attend to, associate with, and aid a target individual based on her probable contributions to the fitness of the valuer. To steer between effectiveness and economy, social emotions need to activate in precise proportion to the local evaluations of the various acts and characteristics that dictate the social value of self and others. Supporting this hypothesis, experiments conducted in the United States and India indicate that five different social emotions all track a common set of valuations. The extent to which people value each of 25 positive characteristics in others predicts the intensities of: pride (if you had those characteristics), anger (if someone failed to acknowledge that you have those characteristics), gratitude (if someone convinced others that you have those characteristics), guilt (if you harmed someone who has those characteristics), and sadness (if someone died who had those characteristics). The five emotions track local valuations (mean r=+.72) and even foreign valuations (mean r=+.70). In addition, cultural differences in emotion are patterned: They follow cultural differences in valuation. These findings suggest that multiple social emotions are governed (in part) by a common architecture of social valuation, that the valuation architecture operates with a substantial degree of universality in its content, and that a unified theoretical framework may explain crosscultural invariances and cultural differences in emotion.
... It has been hypothesized that emotions are neurocognitive adaptations designed by natural selection to orchestrate cognition and behavior in the service of solving complex adaptive problems, and that social emotions are a subset of emotions designed to solve adaptive problems of sociality (Darwin, 1872;Ekman, 1992;Keltner & Haidt, 1999;Nesse, 1990;Tooby, 1985;Tooby & Cosmides, 1990). Recalibration appears to be a central aspect of social emotions: These emotions recalibrate internal variables of the cognitive architecture, including, notably, variables that index the social valuations assigned by self and others (Al-Shawaf, Conroy-Beam, Asao, & Buss, 2016;Al-Shawaf & Lewis, 2017;Delton & Robertson, 2016;Sell et al., 2009;Sznycer, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2017;. From this theoretical perspective, different social emotions are different adaptations that evolved to solve different adaptive problems of social valuation and that have different elicitors and outputs. 1 For example: • The gratitude system appears designed to consolidate a higher level of cooperation with a social partner (Algoe, Haidt, & Gable, 2008;Lim, 2012;Smith et al., 2017). ...
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Social emotions are hypothesized to be adaptations designed by selection to solve adaptive problems pertaining to social valuation—the disposition to attend to, associate with, and aid a target individual based on her probable contributions to the fitness of the valuer. To steer between effectiveness and economy, social emotions must activate in precise proportion to the local evaluations of the various acts and characteristics that dictate the social value of self and others. Supporting this hypothesis, experiments conducted in the United States and India indicate that five different social emotions all track a common set of valuations. The extent to which people value each of 25 positive characteristics in others predicts the intensities of: pride (if you had those characteristics), anger (if someone failed to acknowledge that you have those characteristics), gratitude (if someone convinced others that you have those characteristics), guilt (if you harmed someone who has those characteristics), and sadness (if someone died who had those characteristics). The five emotions track local valuations (mean r = +.72) and even foreign valuations (mean r = +.70). In addition, cultural differences in emotion are lawfully patterned: They follow cultural differences in valuation. These findings suggest that multiple social emotions are governed (in part) by a common architecture of social valuation, that the valuation architecture operates with a substantial degree of universality in its content, and that a unified theoretical framework can explain cross-cultural invariances and cultural differences in emotion.
... The standard protocol for assessing social discounting was developed with US college undergraduates ( [38]; a similar protocol is used in evolutionary psychology to study welfare-trade-off ratios [48]). Typically, it consists of a paper-and-pencil task where participants imagine a list of 100 people closest to themselves. ...
Article
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Current scientific reforms focus more on solutions to the problem of reliability (e.g. direct replications) than generalizability. Here, we use a cross-cultural study of social discounting to illustrate the utility of a complementary focus on generalizability across diverse human populations. Social discounting is the tendency to sacrifice more for socially close individuals—a phenomenon replicated across countries and laboratories. Yet, when adapting a typical protocol to low-literacy, resource-scarce settings in Bangladesh and Indonesia, we find no independent effect of social distance on generosity, despite still documenting this effect among US participants. Several reliability and validity checks suggest that methodological issues alone cannot explain this finding. These results illustrate why we must complement replication efforts with investment in strong checks on generalizability. By failing to do so, we risk developing theories of human nature that reliably explain behaviour among only a thin slice of humanity.
Article
One of the most important dimensions along which we evaluate others is their propensity to value our welfare: we like people who are disposed to incur costs for our benefit and who refrain from imposing costs on us to benefit themselves. The evolutionary importance of social valuation in our species suggests that humans have cognitive mechanisms that are able to efficiently extract information about how much another person values them. Here I test the hypothesis that people are spontaneously interested in the kinds of events that have the most potential to reveal such information. In two studies, I presented participants (Ns = 216; 300) with pairs of dilemmas that another individual faced in an economic game; for each pair, I asked them to choose the dilemma for which they would most like to see the decision that the individual had made. On average, people spontaneously selected the choices that had the potential to reveal the most information about the individual’s valuation of the participant, as quantified by a Bayesian ideal search model. This finding suggests that human cooperation is supported by sophisticated cognitive mechanisms for information-gathering.
Article
The Cambridge Handbook of Political Psychology provides a comprehensive review of the psychology of political behaviour from an international perspective. Its coverage spans from foundational approaches to political psychology, including the evolutionary, personality and developmental roots of political attitudes, to contemporary challenges to governance, including populism, hate speech, conspiracy beliefs, inequality, climate change and cyberterrorism. Each chapter features cutting-edge research from internationally renowned scholars who offer their unique insights into how people think, feel and act in different political contexts. By taking a distinctively international approach, this handbook highlights the nuances of political behaviour across cultures and geographical regions, as well as the truisms of political psychology that transcend context. Academics, graduate students and practitioners alike, as well as those generally interested in politics and human behaviour, will benefit from this definitive overview of how people shape – and are shaped by – their political environment in a rapidly changing twenty-first century.
Article
This chapter aims to synthesise recent research studying political ideology from an evolutionary perspective. We begin by outlining how evolutionary theory can be applied to human psychology. We then review recent lines of evolutionary research linking variation in political ideology to physical formidability, the behavioural immune system, threat sensitivity, and evolved moral foundations. We synthesise this research with a novel framework of political differences inspired by recent independent, convergent evidence for two key shifts in the evolution of human group living. This evolutionary framework explains economic and social conservatism as emerging from two fundamental human social drives: cooperation and group conformity. We conclude with some remaining questions and future directions for evolutionary approaches to political ideology.
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Pietraszewski proposes four triadic “primitives” for representing social groups. We argue that, despite surface differences, these triads can all be reduced to similar underlying welfare trade-off ratios, which are a better candidate for social group primitives. Welfare trade-off ratios also have limitations, however, and we suggest there are multiple computational strategies by which people recognize and reason about social groups.
Article
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that there are two major dimensions of social perception, often called warmth and competence, and that warmth is prioritized over competence in multiple types of social decision-making. Existing explanations for this prioritization argue that warmth is more consequential for an observer's welfare than is competence. We present a new explanation for the prioritization of warmth based on humans' evolutionary history of cooperative partner choice. We argue that the prioritization of warmth evolved because ancestral humans faced greater variance in the warmth of potential cooperative partners than in their competence but greater variance in competence over time within cooperative relationships. These each made warmth more predictive than competence of the future benefits of a relationship, but because of differences in the distributions of these traits, not because of differences in their intrinsic consequentiality. A broad, synthetic review of the anthropological literature suggests that these conditions were characteristic of the ecologies in which human social cognition evolved, and agent-based models demonstrate the plausibility of these selection pressures. We conclude with future directions for the study of preferences and the further integration of social and evolutionary psychology.
Article
Society suffers when people stay silent on moral issues. Yet people who engage morally may appear hypocritical if they behave imperfectly themselves. Research reveals that hypocrites can—but do not always—trigger a “hypocrisy penalty,” whereby they are evaluated as more immoral than ordinary (non-hypocritical) wrongdoers. This pattern reflects that moral engagement can confer reputational benefits, but can also carry reputational costs when paired with inconsistent moral conduct. We discuss mechanisms underlying these costs and benefits, illuminating when hypocrisy is (and is not) evaluated negatively. Our review highlights the role that dishonesty and other factors play in engendering disdain for hypocrites, and offers suggestions for how, in a world where nobody is perfect, people can engage morally without generating backlash.
Article
Things afford positive, neutral, or negative long-run effects on the replicative probability of the focal individual's genes. At the most general level, values are internal estimates of those effects. Value information steers physiology and behavior in the right direction: approach apple, avoid lion. Thus, value computation is of paramount biological importance. Task analysis suggests there are many prerequisites for valuing things aptly. Here, I focus on two: the need to compute value accurately, and the need to properly feed and integrate value information into the various systems that use value information (e.g., emotion systems). For example, the subjective food value imputed to an apple needs to reflect the nutrient content of the apple (accuracy); the intensity of gratitude aroused if someone gave you an apple needs to reflect the food value imputed to the apple (integration). Here, I evaluate these hypotheses with two preregistered studies. Consistent with the integration hypothesis, there are close correspondences between (i) the food values that participants impute to each of 40 food items (Study 1; goods) and (ii) the social values and the social emotions (including: gratitude, anger, shame, and pride) that result when those food items occur as constituents of broader social events. Similar correspondences are observed when participants evaluate each of 28 diseases and injuries (Study 2; bads). Consistent with the accuracy hypothesis, exploratory analyses indicate that the food values, the social values, and the social emotions elicited by the food items all track the nutrient content of those food items. Valuation is inherently a computational process. For this reason, a computational–functionalist perspective is distinctively suited to spur progress in our understanding of human values.
Article
To successfully navigate their social world, humans need to understand and map enduring relationships between people: Humans need a concept of social affiliation. Here I propose that the initial concept of social affiliation, available in infancy, is based on the extent to which one individual consistently takes on the goals and needs of another. This proposal grounds affiliation in intuitive psychology, as formalized in the naive-utility-calculus model. A concept of affiliation based on interpersonal utility adoption can account for findings from studies of infants' reasoning about imitation, similarity, helpful and fair individuals, "ritual" behaviors, and social groups without the need for additional innate mechanisms such as a coalitional psychology, moral sense, or general preference for similar others. I identify further tests of this proposal and also discuss how it is likely to be relevant to social reasoning and learning across the life span.
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Immoral actions can elicit a wide array of responses, ranging from pugnacious confrontation to passive distancing. What leads onlookers to react so differently to various violations? Across four studies (N = 2085), we investigated how responses vary depending on whether moral transgressions are committed by adults or by children. Findings reliably demonstrated that adult participants were more likely to avoid adult transgressors, and more likely to instruct child transgressors about why their actions were wrong. These patterns arose from varying cost-benefit structures, derived in part from asymmetries in interpersonal power between adults and children, rendering adults' direct confrontation of children both less costly and more beneficial. Although adults' transgressions were judged to be relatively more wrong, participants had greater anxiety about the negative consequences of confronting adults, and they viewed adults' personalities as less malleable, thus diminishing the effectiveness of confrontation. In contrast, 4- to 9-year-old children did not differ in their willingness to avoid or instruct adult and child transgressors. Across studies, the content of transgressions (e.g., being harmful or impure) mattered little for determining the nature of responses. Overall, diverse responses to moral transgressions were uniquely tailored to the different costs and benefits associated with confronting adult and child transgressors.
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Punishment and reputation-based mechanisms play a major role in supporting the evolution of human cooperation. Theoretical accounts and field observations suggest that humans use multiple tactics to intervene against offences—including confrontation, gossip and ostracism—which have unique benefits and costs. Here, we draw a distinction between direct punishment tactics (i.e. physical and verbal confrontation) and indirect reputation-based tactics (i.e. gossip and ostracism). Based on this distinction, we sketch the common and unique social functions that different tactics are tailored to serve and describe information-processing mechanisms that potentially underlie decisions concerning how to intervene against offences. We propose that decision rules guiding direct and indirect tactics should weigh information about the benefits of changing others' behaviour versus the costs of potential retaliation. Based on a synthesis of existing evidence, we highlight the role of situational, relational and emotional factors in motivating distinct punishment tactics. We suggest that delineating between direct and indirect tactics can inform debates about the prevalence and functions of punishment and the reputational consequences of third-party intervention against offences. We emphasize the need to study how people use reputation-based tactics for partner recalibration and partner choice, within interdependent relationships and social networks, and in daily life situations. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The language of cooperation: reputation and honest signalling’.
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Punishment and reputation-based mechanisms play a major role in supporting the evolution of human cooperation. Theoretical accounts and field observations suggest that humans use multiple tactics to intervene against offenses—including confrontation, gossip, and ostracism—which have unique benefits and costs. Here, we draw a distinction between direct punishment tactics (i.e., physical and verbal confrontation) and indirect reputation-based tactics (i.e., gossip and ostracism). Based on this distinction, we sketch the common and unique social functions that different tactics are tailored to serve and describe information-processing mechanisms that potentially underlie decisions concerning how to intervene against offenses. We propose that decision rules guiding direct and indirect tactics should weigh information about the benefits of changing others’ behavior versus the costs of potential retaliation. Based on a synthesis of existing evidence, we highlight the role of situational, relational, and emotional factors in motivating distinct punishment tactics. We suggest that delineating between direct and indirect tactics can inform debates about the prevalence and functions of punishment, and the reputational consequences of third-party intervention against offenses. We emphasize the need to study how people use reputation-based tactics for partner recalibration and partner choice, within interdependent relationships and social networks, and in daily life situations.
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Previous studies on self-other welfare tradeoff focus more on the gain situations than the loss situations. Numerous studies have explored the influence of social distance on the tradeoff but ignored the complex interactions among gain and loss situations, others’ reference points, and psychological distance. This study investigated the influences of others’ reference points and psychological distance on self-other welfare tradeoff in gain and loss situations by using welfare tradeoff rate (WTR) as an index of altruistic degree in self-other welfare tradeoff. In Experiment 1, the effect of WTR on the gain and loss situations and its mechanism were explored. In Experiment 2, others’ reference points were added as another factor to examine their influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations. In Experiment 3, the psychological distance variable was further introduced to investigate its influence on WTR and interaction with the gain and loss situations and others’ reference points. Results of Experiment 1 showed no significant difference in WTR between gain and loss situations. In Experiment 2, WTR in the gain situation was found to be significantly higher than that in the loss situation, and WTR was reduced when others approached the bottom line, goal, and status quo. Further analyses showed that the WTR under the gain situation was significantly higher than that under the loss situation when others approached the bottom line. Meanwhile, no significant difference was observed in the WTR under the gain and loss situations when others approached the status quo and goal. In Experiment 3, the WTR of close psychological distance was found to be higher than that of far psychological distance, and the main effect of gain and loss situations disappeared. Psychological distance had complex interaction effects with gain and loss situations and others’ reference points. These findings contribute to a deep understanding of the asymmetric effects of gain and loss situations, tri-reference-point theory, and related findings from studies on social discounting and self-other decisionmaking differences. They also have certain practical implications for individuals, organizations, and countries in understanding and dealing with the relationships between ones’ selves and others.
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Many psychological theories understand that a person’s actions are psychologically mediated—that is, they are caused most proximally by how the person perceives their situation. Here, I discuss how functional field models can be used to represent the perceived situation as a path model detailing the forces a person understands as connecting actions, features of the environment, and their ultimate appraisal of the situation. I illustrate how specific situational factors can be represented as affecting a person’s actions by affecting these perceived forces, and thus their understanding of the action’s expected effects. I describe how verbal descriptions of the situation, or of their reasons for action, can be formally represented within field models. Finally, I describe how field models can be used to represent arguments about how traits relate to one another, such as how a person’s level of extraversion or callousness might affect the levels of many other traits. More generally, functional field models can help to represent how people actively construct their environment, and how we can better utilize people’s verbal descriptions of their own traits or their reasons for action.
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Friendship fundamentally shapes interactions, and predicting other people's affiliations is crucial for effectively navigating the social world. We investigated how 3- to 11-year-old children use three cues to reason about friendship: propinquity, similarity, and loyalty. In past work, researchers asked children to report on their own friendships and found a shift from an early focus on propinquity to a much later understanding of the importance of loyalty. Indeed, attention to loyalty was not standard until adolescence. Across four studies (total N = 900), we used a simpler method in which we asked children to make a forced-choice decision about which of two people a main character was better friends with. Although we replicated the finding that understanding the importance of loyalty increases with age, we also found evidence that even the youngest children tested (3- to 5-year-olds) can use loyalty to predict friendship. Thus, a sophisticated understanding of how social interactions unfold differently between friends and nonfriends may be evident by the preschool years. We also discuss interesting developmental differences in how children weigh the importance of each of these friendship cues.
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3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) produces "prosocial" effects that contribute to its recreational use. Few studies have examined the cognitive and behavioral mechanisms by which MDMA produces these effects. Here we examined the effect of MDMA on a specific prosocial effect, i.e. generosity, using a task in which participants make decisions about whether they or another person will receive money (Welfare Trade-Off Task; WTT). The project included one study without drug administration and one with MDMA. In Study 1, we administered the WTT to healthy adults (N = 361) and examined their performance in relation to measures of personality and socioeconomic status. In Study 2, healthy volunteers with MDMA experience (N = 32) completed the WTT after MDMA administration (0, 0.5, or 1.0 mg/kg). As expected, in both studies participants were more generous with a close friend than an acquaintance or stranger. In Study 1, WTT generosity was related to household income and trait Agreeableness. In Study 2, MDMA (1.0 mg/kg) increased generosity toward a friend but not a stranger, whereas MDMA (0.5 mg/kg) slightly increased generosity toward a stranger, especially among female participants. These data indicate that the WTT is a valuable, novel tool to assess a component of prosocial behavior, i.e. generosity to others. The findings support growing evidence that MDMA produces prosocial effects, but, as with oxytocin, these appear to depend on the social proximity of the relationships. The brain mechanisms underlying the construct of generosity, or the effects of MDMA on this measure, remain to be determined. © The Author(s) 2015.
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The Asymmetric War of Attrition (AWA) model of animal conflict in evolutionary biology (Maynard Smith and Parker in Nature, 246, 15-18, 1976) suggests that an organism's decision to withdraw from a conflict is the result of adaptations designed to integrate the expected value of winning, discounted by the expected costs that would be incurred by continuing to compete, via sensitivity to proximate cues of how quickly each side can impose costs on the other (Resource Holding Potential), and how much each side will gain by winning. The current studies examine whether human conflict expectations follow the formalized logic of this model. Children aged 6-8 years were presented with third-party conflict vignettes and were then asked to predict the likely winner. Cues of ownership, hunger, size, strength, and alliance strength were systematically varied across conditions. Results demonstrate that children's expectations followed the logic of the AWA model, even in complex situations featuring multiple, competing cues, such that the actual relative costs and benefits that would accrue during such a conflict were reflected in children's expectations. Control conditions show that these modifications to conflict expectations could not have resulted from more general experimental artifacts or demand characteristics. To test the selectivity of these effects to conflict, expectations of search effort were also assessed. As predicted, they yielded a different pattern of results. These studies represent one of the first experimental tests of the AWA model in humans and suggest that future research on the psychology of ownership, conflict, and value may be aided by formalized models from evolutionary biology.
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Significance People often consider the well-being of others. However, they are more likely to be generous toward individuals they feel close to than to those they only meet sporadically. Using neuroimaging tools, we show that the decline in generosity across social distance is realized by the interplay of two brain structures—the ventromedial prefrontal cortex coding the relative appeal of a selfish or a generous option, and the temporoparietal junction modulating appeal signals of the generous outcome, depending on social distance between participant and beneficiary. Based on these findings, we developed a biologically plausible model explaining social discounting in particular, and prosocial behavior in general. Our study opens up new avenues to understand and tackle frictions arising in social networks.
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When faced with the chance to help someone in mortal danger, what is our first response? Do we leap into action, only later considering the risks to ourselves? Or must instinctive self-preservation be overcome by will-power in order to act? We investigate this question by examining the testimony of Carnegie Hero Medal Recipients (CHMRs), extreme altruists who risked their lives to save others. We collected published interviews with CHMRs where they described their decisions to help. We then had participants rate the intuitiveness versus deliberativeness of the decision-making process described in each CHMR statement. The statements were judged to be overwhelmingly dominated by intuition; to be significantly more intuitive than a set of control statements describing deliberative decision-making; and to not differ significantly from a set of intuitive control statements. This remained true when restricting to scenarios in which the CHMRs had sufficient time to reflect before acting if they had so chosen. Text-analysis software found similar results. These findings suggest that high-stakes extreme altruism may be largely motivated by automatic, intuitive processes.
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Does the human mind contain evolved concepts? Many psychologists have doubted this or have investigated only a narrow set (e.g., object, number, cause). Does the human mind contain evolved motivational systems? Many more assent to this claim, holding that there are evolved motivational systems for, among other tasks, social affiliation, aggressive competition, and finding food. An emerging research program, however, reveals that these are not separate questions. Any evolved motivational system needs a wealth of conceptual structure that tethers the motivations to real world entities. For instance, what use is a fear of predators without knowing what predators are and how to respond to them effectively? As we illustrate with case studies of cooperation and conflict, there is no motivation without representation: To generate adaptive behavior, motivational systems must be interwoven with the concepts required to support them, and cannot be understood without explicit reference to those concepts.
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Significance Conflict is a common feature of social life among group-living animals, but many social relationships often retain value even after conflicts have occurred. Consequently, natural selection has likely endowed humans and other animal species with cognitive systems that motivate reconciliation with interaction partners that they perceive as valuable and nonthreatening, notwithstanding prior conflict. In a large sample of people who had recently been harmed by an interaction partner, we found that conciliatory gestures, such as apologies and offers of compensation, accelerated forgiveness and reduced anger toward transgressors, largely by altering victims’ perceptions of their transgressors’ relationship value and exploitation risk. These results give insight into the design logic behind the cognitive systems that motivate human postconflict reconciliation.
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Animals typically deploy their morphology during conflict to enhance competitors' assessments of their fighting ability (e.g. bared fangs, piloerection, dewlap inflation). Recent research has shown that humans assess others' fighting ability by monitoring cues of strength, and that the face itself contains such cues. We propose that the muscle movements that constitute the human facial expression of anger were selected because they increased others' assessments of the angry individual's strength, thereby increasing bargaining power. This runs contrary to the traditional theory that the anger face is an arbitrary set of features that evolved simply to signal aggressive intent. To test between these theories, the seven key muscle movements constituting the anger face were systematically manipulated one by one and in the absence of the others. Raters assessed faces containing any one of these muscle movements as physically stronger, supporting the hypothesis that the anger face evolved to enhance cues of strength.
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Humans are often generous, even towards strangers encountered by chance and even in the absence of any explicit information suggesting they will meet again. Because game theoretic analyses typically conclude that a psychology designed for direct reciprocity should defect in such situations, many have concluded that alternative explanations for human generosity-explanations beyond direct reciprocity-are necessary. However, human cooperation evolved within a material and informational ecology: Simply adding consideration of one minimal ecological relationship to the analysis of reciprocity brings theory and observation closer together, indicating that ecology-free analyses of cooperation can be fragile. Using simulations, we show that the autocorrelation of an individual's location over time means that even a chance encounter with an individual predicts an increased probability of a future encounter with that same individual. We discuss how a psychology designed for such an ecology may be expected to often cooperate even in apparently one-shot situations.
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Why and under what conditions are individuals altruistic to family and friends in their social networks? Evolutionary psychology suggests that such behaviour is primarily the product of adaptations for kin- and reciprocal altruism, dependent on the degree of genetic relatedness and exchange of benefits, respectively. For this reason, individuals are expected to be more altruistic to family members than to friends: whereas family members can be the recipients of kin and reciprocal altruism, friends can be the recipients of reciprocal altruism only. However, there is a question about how the effect of kinship is implemented at the proximate psychological level. One possibility is that kinship contributes to some general measure of relationship quality (such as 'emotional closeness'), which in turn explains altruism. Another possibility is that the effect of kinship is independent of relationship quality. The present study tests between these two possibilities. Participants (N= 111) completed a self-report questionnaire about their willingness to be altruistic, and their emotional closeness, to 12 family members and friends at different positions in their extended social networks. As expected, altruism was greater for family than friends, and greater for more central layers of the network. Crucially, the results showed that kinship made a significant unique contribution to altruism, even when controlling for the effects of emotional closeness. Thus, participants were more altruistic towards kin than would be expected if altruism was dependent on emotional closeness alone - a phenomenon we label a 'kinship premium'. These results have implications for the ongoing debate about the extent to which kin relations and friendships are distinct kinds of social relationships, and how to measure the 'strength of ties' in social networks.
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In situations of potential violent conflict, deciding whether to fight, flee, or try to negotiate entails assessing many attributes contributing to the relative formidability of oneself and one's opponent. Summary representations can usefully facilitate such assessments of multiple factors. Because physical size and strength are both phylogenetically ancient and ontogenetically recurrent contributors to the outcome of violent conflicts, these attributes provide plausible conceptual dimensions that may be used by the mind to summarize the relative formidability of opposing parties. Because the presence of allies is a vital factor in determining victory, we hypothesized that men accompanied by male companions would therefore envision a solitary foe as physically smaller and less muscular than would men who were alone. We document the predicted effect in two studies, one using naturally occurring variation in the presence of male companions and one employing experimental manipulation of this factor.
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We propose that intuitions about modern mass-level criminal justice emerge from evolved mechanisms designed to operate in ancestral small-scale societies. By hypothesis, individuals confronted with a crime compute two distinct psychological magnitudes: one that reflects the crime's seriousness and another that reflects the criminal's long-term value as an associate. These magnitudes are computed based on different sets of cues and are fed into motivational mechanisms regulating different aspects of sanctioning. The seriousness variable regulates how much to react (e.g., how severely we want to punish); the variable indexing the criminal's association value regulates the more fundamental decision of how to react (i.e., whether we want to punish or repair). Using experimental designs embedded in surveys, we validate this theory across several types of crime and two countries. The evidence augments past research and suggests that the human mind contains dedicated psychological mechanisms for restoring social relationships following acts of exploitation.
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Altruistic behavior has been defined in economic terms as "…costly acts that confer economic benefits on other individuals" (Fehr & Fischbacher, 2003). In a prisoner's dilemma game, cooperation benefits the group but is costly to the individual (relative to defection), yet a significant number of players choose to cooperate. We propose that people do value rewards to others, albeit at a discounted rate (social discounting), in a manner similar to discounting of delayed rewards (delay discounting). Two experiments opposed the personal benefit from defection to the socially discounted benefit to others from cooperation. The benefit to others was determined from a social discount function relating the individual's subjective value of a reward to another person and the social distance between that individual and the other person. In Experiment 1, the cost of cooperating was held constant while its social benefit was varied in terms of the number of other players, each gaining a fixed, hypothetical amount of money. In Experiment 2, the cost of cooperating was again held constant while the social benefit of cooperating was varied by the hypothetical amount of money earned by a single other player. In both experiments, significantly more participants cooperated when the social benefit was higher.
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Evolutionary psychology is the second wave of the cognitive revolution. The first wave focused on computational processes that generate knowledge about the world: perception, attention, categorization, reasoning, learning, and memory. The second wave views the brain as composed of evolved computational systems, engineered by natural selection to use information to adaptively regulate physiology and behavior. This shift in focus-from knowledge acquisition to the adaptive regulation of behavior-provides new ways of thinking about every topic in psychology. It suggests a mind populated by a large number of adaptive specializations, each equipped with content-rich representations, concepts, inference systems, and regulatory variables, which are functionally organized to solve the complex problems of survival and reproduction encountered by the ancestral hunter-gatherers from whom we are descended. We present recent empirical examples that illustrate how this approach has been used to discover new features of attention, categorization, reasoning, learning, emotion, and motivation.
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A model is presented to account for the natural selection of what is termed reciprocally altruistic behavior. The model shows how selection can operate against the cheater (non-reciprocator) in the system. Three instances of altruistic behavior are discussed, the evolution of which the model can explain: (1) behavior involved in cleaning symbioses; (2) warning cries in birds; and (3) human reciprocal altruism. Regarding human reciprocal altruism, it is shown that the details of the psychological system that regulates this altruism can be explained by the model. Specifically, friendship, dislike, moralistic aggression, gratitude, sympathy, trust, suspicion, trustworthiness, aspects of guilt, and some forms of dishonesty and hypocrisy can be explained as important adaptations to regulate the altruistic system. Each individual human is seen as possessing altruistic and cheating tendencies, the expression of which is sensitive to developmental variables that were selected to set the tendencies at a balance ap...
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Standard measures of generalized trust in others are often taken to provide reliable indicators of economic attitudes in different countries. Here we compared three highly distinct groups, in Kenya, China and the US, in terms of more specific attitudes, [a] people's willingness to invest in the future, [b] their willingness to invest in others, and [c] their trust in institutions. Results suggest that these measures capture deep differences in economic attitudes that are not detected by standard measures of generalized trust.
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Evolutionary principles suggest that there will be differences in the nature of altruism directed toward kin vs. nonkin. The present study sought to explore these differences. Participants were 295 undergraduate students who each completed a questionnaire about help exchanged with siblings, cousins, acquaintances or friends. For siblings, cousins and acquaintances, greater relatedness was associated with higher levels of helping. Friends were an exception, however, receiving as much or more help than kin. Consistent with an evolutionary analysis, as the cost of helping increased, kin received a larger share of the help given, whereas nonkin received a smaller share. For low-cost help, people helped friends more than siblings; for medium-cost help, they helped siblings and friends equally; and for high-cost help, they expressed a greater willingness to help siblings than friends. As expected, the level of reciprocal exchange was higher among acquaintances than among friends; however, there was also an unexpectedly high level of reciprocal exchange among kin.
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Laboratory studies of choice and decision making among real monetary rewards typically use smaller real rewards than those common in real life. When laboratory rewards are large, they are almost always hypothetical. In applying laboratory results meaningfully to real-life situations, it is important to know the extent to which choices among hypothetical rewards correspond to choices among real rewards and whether variation of the magnitude of hypothetical rewards affects behavior in meaningful ways. The present study compared real and hypothetical monetary rewards in two experiments. In Experiment 1, participants played a temporal discounting game that incorporates the logic of a repeated prisoner's-dilemma (PD) game versus tit-for-tat; choice of one alternative ("defection" in PD terminology) resulted in a small-immediate reward; choice of the other alternative ("cooperation" in PD terminology) resulted in a larger reward delayed until the following trial. The larger-delayed reward was greater for half of the groups than for the other half. Rewards also differed in type across groups: multiples of real nickels, hypothetical nickels, or hypothetical hundred-dollar bills. All groups significantly increased choice of the larger delayed reward over the 40 trials of the experiment. Over the last 10 trials, cooperation was significantly higher when the difference between larger and smaller hypothetical rewards was greater. Reward type (real or hypothetical) made no significant difference in cooperation on most measures. In Experiment 2, real and hypothetical rewards were compared in social discounting-the decrease in value to the giver of a reward as social distance increases to the receiver of the reward. Social discount rates were well described by a hyperbolic function. Discounting rates for real and hypothetical rewards did not significantly differ. These results add to the evidence that results of experiments with hypothetical rewards validly apply in everyday life.
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In order to determine how to act in situations of potential agonistic conflict, individuals must assess multiple features of a prospective foe that contribute to the foe's resource-holding potential, or formidability. Across diverse species, physical size and strength are key determinants of formidability, and the same is often true for humans. However, in many species, formidability is also influenced by other factors, such as sex, coalitional size, and, in humans, access to weaponry. Decision-making involving assessments of multiple features is enhanced by the use of a single summary variable that encapsulates the contributions of these features. Given both a) the phylogenetic antiquity of the importance of size and strength as determinants of formidability, and b) redundant experiences during development that underscore the contributions of size and strength to formidability, we hypothesize that size and strength constitute the conceptual dimensions of a representation used to summarize multiple diverse determinants of a prospective foe's formidability. Here, we test this hypothesis in humans by examining the effects of a potential foe's access to weaponry on estimations of that individual's size and strength. We demonstrate that knowing that an individual possesses a gun or a large kitchen knife leads observers to conceptualize him as taller, and generally larger and more muscular, than individuals who possess only tools or similarly mundane objects. We also document that such patterns are not explicable in terms of any actual correlation between gun ownership and physical size, nor can they be explained in terms of cultural schemas or other background knowledge linking particular objects to individuals of particular size and strength. These findings pave the way for a fuller understanding of the evolution of the cognitive systems whereby humans--and likely many other social vertebrates--navigate social hierarchies.
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Hamilton's [Hamilton, W.D., 1964. The genetical evolution of social behavior, I, II. J. Theor. Biol. 7, 1–52] kin-selection theory predicts that altruism will be greater with greater genetic overlap (degree of kinship) between giver and receiver. Kin may be identified in terms of social distance—the closer you feel to someone else, (a) the greater your genetic overlap with them should be, and (b) the more altruistic you should be toward them. The present experiment determined the amount of their own (hypothetical) monetary reward undergraduates were willing to forgo in order to give $75 to other people at various social distances. We found that (a) genetic relationship and (b) altruism varied inversely with social distance; the closer you feel to someone else, the closer their relation to you is likely to be, and the more altruistic you are likely to be toward them. However, even at the same social distance, participants were willing to forgo significantly more money for the benefit of relatives than for the benefit of non-relatives. These results are consistent with kin-selection theory and imply that altruism is determined by factors in addition to social distance.
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Exploitation is a fact of life for social organisms, and natural selection gives rise to revenge mechanisms that are designed to deter such exploitations. However, humans may also possess cognitive forgiveness mechanisms designed to promote the restoration of valuable social relationships following exploitation. In the current article, the authors test the hypothesis that decisions about forgiveness result from a computational system that combines information about relationship value and exploitation risk to produce decisions about whom to forgive following interpersonal offenses. The authors examined the independent and interactive effects of relationship value and exploitation risk across two studies. In Study 1, controlling for other constructs related to forgiveness, the authors assessed relationship value and exploitation risk. In Study 2, participants experienced experimental manipulations of relationship value and exploitation risk. Across studies, using hypothetical and actual offenses and varied forgiveness measures, the combination of low exploitation risk and high relationship value predicted the greatest forgiveness.
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Are humans too generous? The discovery that subjects choose to incur costs to allocate benefits to others in anonymous, one-shot economic games has posed an unsolved challenge to models of economic and evolutionary rationality. Using agent-based simulations, we show that such generosity is the necessary byproduct of selection on decision systems for regulating dyadic reciprocity under conditions of uncertainty. In deciding whether to engage in dyadic reciprocity, these systems must balance (i) the costs of mistaking a one-shot interaction for a repeated interaction (hence, risking a single chance of being exploited) with (ii) the far greater costs of mistaking a repeated interaction for a one-shot interaction (thereby precluding benefits from multiple future cooperative interactions). This asymmetry builds organisms naturally selected to cooperate even when exposed to cues that they are in one-shot interactions.
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The ratio of males to females in a population is an important factor in determining behavior in animals. We propose that sex ratio also has pervasive effects in humans, such as by influencing economic decisions. Using both historical data and experiments, we examined how sex ratio influences saving, borrowing, and spending in the United States. Findings show that male-biased sex ratios (an abundance of men) lead men to discount the future and desire immediate rewards. Male-biased sex ratios decreased men's desire to save for the future and increased their willingness to incur debt for immediate expenditures. Sex ratio appears to influence behavior by increasing the intensity of same-sex competition for mates. Accordingly, a scarcity of women led people to expect men to spend more money during courtship, such as by paying more for engagement rings. These findings demonstrate experimentally that sex ratio influences human decision making in ways consistent with evolutionary biological theory. Implications for sex ratio effects across cultures are discussed.
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Recent research has shown that humans, like many other animals, have a specialization for assessing fighting ability from visual cues. Because it is probable that the voice contains cues of strength and formidability that are not available visually, we predicted that selection has also equipped humans with the ability to estimate physical strength from the voice. We found that subjects accurately assessed upper-body strength in voices taken from eight samples across four distinct populations and language groups: the Tsimane of Bolivia, Andean herder-horticulturalists and United States and Romanian college students. Regardless of whether raters were told to assess height, weight, strength or fighting ability, they produced similar ratings that tracked upper-body strength independent of height and weight. Male voices were more accurately assessed than female voices, which is consistent with ethnographic data showing a greater tendency among males to engage in violent aggression. Raters extracted information about strength from the voice that was not supplied from visual cues, and were accurate with both familiar and unfamiliar languages. These results provide, to our knowledge, the first direct evidence that both men and women can accurately assess men's physical strength from the voice, and suggest that estimates of strength are used to assess fighting ability.
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Eleven predictions derived from the recalibrational theory of anger were tested. This theory proposes that anger is produced by a neurocognitive program engineered by natural selection to use bargaining tactics to resolve conflicts of interest in favor of the angry individual. The program is designed to orchestrate two interpersonal negotiating tactics (conditionally inflicting costs or conditionally withholding benefits) to incentivize the target of the anger to place greater weight on the welfare of the angry individual. Individuals with enhanced abilities to inflict costs (e.g., stronger individuals) or to confer benefits (e.g., attractive individuals) have a better bargaining position in conflicts; hence, it was predicted that such individuals will be more prone to anger, prevail more in conflicts of interest, and consider themselves entitled to better treatment. These predictions were confirmed. Consistent with an evolutionary analysis, the effect of strength on anger was greater for men and the effect of attractiveness on anger was greater for women. Also as predicted, stronger men had a greater history of fighting than weaker men, and more strongly endorsed the efficacy of force to resolve conflicts--both in interpersonal and international conflicts. The fact that stronger men favored greater use of military force in international conflicts provides evidence that the internal logic of the anger program reflects the ancestral payoffs characteristic of a small-scale social world rather than rational assessments of modern payoffs in large populations.
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A human social discount function measures the value to a person of a reward to another person at a given social distance. Just as delay discounting is a hyperbolic function of delay, and probability discounting is a hyperbolic function of odds-against, social discounting is a hyperbolic function of social distance. Experiment 1 obtained individual social, delay, and probability discount functions for a hypothetical $75 reward; participants also indicated how much of an initial $100 endowment they would contribute to a common investment in a public good. Steepness of discounting correlated, across participants, among all three discount dimensions. However, only social and probability discounting were correlated with the public-good contribution; high public-good contributors were more altruistic and also less risk averse than low contributors. Experiment 2 obtained social discount functions with hypothetical $75 rewards and delay discount functions with hypothetical $1,000 rewards, as well as public-good contributions. The results replicated those of Experiment 1; steepness of the two forms of discounting correlated with each other across participants but only social discounting correlated with the public-good contribution. Most participants in Experiment 2 predicted that the average contribution would be lower than their own contribution.
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Selection in species with aggressive social interactions favours the evolution of cognitive mechanisms for assessing physical formidability (fighting ability or resource-holding potential). The ability to accurately assess formidability in conspecifics has been documented in a number of non-human species, but has not been demonstrated in humans. Here, we report tests supporting the hypothesis that the human cognitive architecture includes mechanisms that assess fighting ability-mechanisms that focus on correlates of upper-body strength. Across diverse samples of targets that included US college students, Bolivian horticulturalists and Andean pastoralists, subjects in the US were able to accurately estimate the physical strength of male targets from photos of their bodies and faces. Hierarchical linear modelling shows that subjects were extracting cues of strength that were largely independent of height, weight and age, and that corresponded most strongly to objective measures of upper-body strength-even when the face was all that was available for inspection. Estimates of women's strength were less accurate, but still significant. These studies are the first empirical demonstration that, for humans, judgements of strength and judgements of fighting ability not only track each other, but accurately track actual upper-body strength.
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When choosing between delayed or uncertain outcomes, individuals discount the value of such outcomes on the basis of the expected time to or the likelihood of their occurrence. In an integrative review of the expanding experimental literature on discounting, the authors show that although the same form of hyperbola-like function describes discounting of both delayed and probabilistic outcomes, a variety of recent findings are inconsistent with a single-process account. The authors also review studies that compare discounting in different populations and discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings. The present effort illustrates the value of studying choice involving both delayed and probabilistic outcomes within a general discounting framework that uses similar experimental procedures and a common analytical approach.
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