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Significance It has been proposed that one key function of pride is to guide behavior in ways that would increase others’ valuation of the individual. To incline choice, the pride system must compute for a potential action an anticipated pride intensity that tracks the magnitude of the approval or deference that the action would generate among local audiences. Data from industrial mass societies support this expectation. However, it is presently not known whether those data reflect cultural evolutionary processes or a panhuman adaptation. Experiments conducted in 10 traditional small-scale societies with widely varying cultures and subsistence modes replicate the pattern observed in mass societies. This suggests that pride is a universal system that is part of our species’ cooperative biology.
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Invariances in the architecture of pride across
small-scale societies
Daniel Sznycer
, Dimitris Xygalatas
, Sarah Alami
, Xiao-Fen An
, Kristina I. Ananyeva
, Shintaro Fukushima
Hidefumi Hitokoto
, Alexander N. Kharitonov
, Jeremy M. Koster
, Charity N. Onyishi
, Ike E. Onyishi
Pedro P. Romero
, Kosuke Takemura
, Jin-Ying Zhuang
, Leda Cosmides
, and John Tooby
Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7;
Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Department of Psychological and
Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660;
Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269;
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210;
School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal
University, Shanghai 200062, China;
Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 129366 Moscow, Russia;
School of Cultural and Creative Studies,
Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo 150-8366, Japan;
Faculty of Humanities, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka 814-0180, Japan;
Department of Anthropology,
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0380;
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary
Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany;
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Nigeria, 41000 Nsukka, Nigeria;
Department of
Psychology, University of Nigeria, 41000 Nsukka, Nigeria;
Department of Economics, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Pichincha 17-0901, Ecuador;
Faculty of Economics, Shiga University, Shiga 522-8522, Japan; and
Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Department of Anthropology, University of
California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210
Edited by Steven Pinker, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved July 6, 2018 (received for review May 16, 2018)
Becoming valuable to fellow group members so that one would
attract assistance in times of need is a major adaptive problem. To
solve it, the individual needs a predictive map of the degree to
which others value different acts so that, in choosing how to act, the
payoff arising from othersvaluation of a potential action (e.g., show-
ing bandmates that one is a skilled forager by pursuing a hard-to-
acquire prey item) can be added to the direct payoff of the action
(e.g., gaining the nutrients of the prey captured). The pride system
seems to incorporate all of the elements necessary to solve this adap-
tive problem. Importantly, data from western(-ized), educated, indus-
trialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) societies indicate close
quantitative correspondences between pride and the valuations of
audiences. Do those results generalize beyond industrial mass socie-
ties? To find out, we conducted an experiment among 567 participants
in 10 small-scale societies scattered across Central and South America,
Africa,andAsia:(i) Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua; (ii ) Cotopaxi, Ecua-
dor; (iii) Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco; (iv) Enugu, Nigeria; (v)LeMorne,
Mauritius; (vi) La Gaulette, Mauritius; (vii ) Tuva, Russia; (viii) Shaanxi
and Henan, China; (ix) farming communities in Japan; and (x)fishing
communities in Japan. Despite widely varying languages, cultures, and
subsistence modes, pride in each community closely tracked the valu-
ation of audiences locally (mean r=+0.66) and even across commu-
nities (mean r=+0.29). This suggests that the pride system not only
develops the same functional architecture everywhere but also oper-
ates with a substantial degree of universality in its content.
Evidence from behavioral ecology, archaeology, and contem-
porary forager societies suggests that our hominin ancestors
evolved in an ecology characterized by high rates of mortality,
scarcity and high variance in food acquisition (1), high incidence
of disease and injury (2), and attacks by predators and conspe-
cifics (3, 4). Reliance on fellow group members, including non-
kin, for the assistance necessary to survive and reproduce is a
distinctively human characteristic (5). Indeed, mutual aid has
been such a universal and basic feature of forager subsistence
that it is believed to be central to the evolutionary biology of our
species. In this social ecology, it would have been essential to
incentivize mates, cooperative partners, and fellow group mem-
bers to value ones welfare so that they would be inclined to
render assistance in times of hunger, incapacitation, and in-
terpersonal conflict (2). The extent to which fellow group
members valued, helped, and refrained from exploiting an in-
dividual and the extent to which they deferred to the individual
in conflicts of interests would have sensitively impacted whether
that individual reproduced successfully, struggled, or died
early (6).
In general, there are two classes of bargaining tactics organisms
have available for influencing otherschoices. First, they can
conditionally inflict costsaggression; second, they can bestow (or
withhold) benefitsaltruism. The first causes individuals to be
respected (or feared). The second causes individuals to be valued.
Thus, it might be advantageous to put weight on anothers welfare,
(i) because the individual is formidable and could inflict costs if
not propitiated or (ii) because the individuals actions or existence
make positive fitness contributions to the valuer, which would be
diminished or lost if assistance was not given. Here, we call these
two components respect (for formidability) and valuation (for
positive fitness contributions)also referred to as dominance and
prestige (7). Being respected and being favorably valued by others
were resources, and selection on our ancestors would have shaped
the human motivational system to cost-effectively promote access
to both of those different types of resources.
Because nonhumans are far more limited in the kinds of as-
sistance that they can render each other, almost all nonhuman
It has been proposed that one key function of pride is to guide
behavior in ways that would increase othersvaluation of the
individual. To incline choice, the pride system must compute for
a potential action an anticipated pride intensity that tracks the
magnitude of the approval or deference that the action would
generate among local audiences. Data from industrial mass
societies support this expectation. However, it is presently not
known whether those data reflect cultural evolutionary pro-
cesses or a panhuman adaptation. Experiments conducted in 10
traditional small-scale societies with widely varying cultures
and subsistence modes replicate the pattern observed in mass
societies. This suggests that pride is a universal system that is
part of our speciescooperative biology.
Author contributions: D.S. designed research; D.X., S.A., X.-F.A., K.I.A., S.F., H.H., A.N.K.,
J.M.K., C.N.O., I.E.O., P.P.R., K.T., and J.-Y.Z. performed research; D.S. analyzed data; and
D.S., D.X., L.C., and J.T. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
Published under the PNAS license.
To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email:
This article contains supporting information online at
1073/pnas.1808418115/-/DCSupplemental. PNAS Latest Articles
bargaining is based on aggression. Differences in the ability to
inflict costs (formidability or resource holding power) led to
adaptations for the advertisement of formidability and adapta-
tions for assessing own and othersformidability (8, 9). In group-
living species, dominance hierarchies emerge from patterns of
deference to those with more formidabilityindividuals cede
resources or rank to avoid being harmed (10).
Although humans fully retain and exploit phylogenetically
ancient adaptations for aggression and dominance [including
systems for threat, fighting, display, and assessment (8, 1012)]
as seen in groups of children, adolescents, and adults (1316)
human evolution was distinctive in the greatly expanded role that
mutual assistance played in daily group living, and hence in the
reproductive fortunes of individuals (2, 17). The hominin entry
into the cognitive niche (involving the emergence and integration
of intelligence, language, tool use, coordination, and culture)
greatly amplified the opportunities for mutually advantageous
prosocial interactions (18, 19). As our ancestors entered the
cognitive niche and became hunter-gatherers, there would have
been novel and intense selection for adaptations designed to
make the self valuable to others, and hence recruit assistance
from others. We hypothesize that the emotion of pride functions
as an evolved guidance system that modulates behavior to cost-
effectively manage and capitalize on the propensities of others to
both respect and value the actor.
Mechanisms favoring the valuation of others evolved through
several distinct selection pressures, including kin selection (20),
reciprocation (21), reputation (22), risk pooling (1), externality
management (23), and (substituting respect for valuation) the
asymmetric war of attrition (24). These selection pressures, in
turn, crafted an array of specialized choice architectures to
promote altruistic (or selfish) decisions given the information
available to the actor about a potential recipient [e.g., how to
respond to cues of the recipients relatedness, skills, trustwor-
thiness, or ability to defend her interests (25)]. This implies that
humans will have evolved a neurocognitive architecture for
computing the social value of others, which governs altruistic
behavior (26). We note that formidabilitythe ability to inflict
costs through aggressioncommonly incentivizes others (in
bargaining contexts) to place more weight on the welfare of the
more formidable, even when such aggressive capacity is not
deployed in ways that help others. Hence, both the ability to
confer benefits (e.g., skills, the emission of positive externalities)
and the ability to inflict costs should act as inputs to the systems
that compute the social value of others (7, 11, 15).
In short, othersassessments of the acts and characteristics of a
focal individual lead them to value (or disvalue) her. When
others (an audience) detect new information about an individual
that is at odds with their current level of valuation, their valua-
tion is recalibrated either upward or downward, with corre-
spondingly positive or negative effects on the individuals fitness
(26). This would have selected on the recipients end for moti-
vational adaptations to cost-effectively manage the flow of in-
formation about the self to others (27). Indeed, cross-cultural
evidence has recently provided support for the hypothesis that the
emotion of shame is a neurocognitive adaptation that evolved to
prevent audiences from receiving negative information about the
individual and to limit the degree and costs of devaluation [e.g., by
signaling submission to avoid aggression from audiences (10, 12)]
if negative information does spread (2832).
Reciprocally, the neurocomputational system that organizes
the emotion of pride seems to be an adaptation that evolved to
pursue and advertise acts or traits leading to enhanced respect
and valuation of the individual in the minds of others. A system
designed for this function should orchestrate a suite of cognitive
mechanisms that (i) motivate the pursuit of acts or the cultivation of
traits that would increase othersrespect and valuations of the indi-
vidual; (ii) motivate the advertisement of acts or characteristics that,
when discovered by others, would lead them to increase their respect
and valuations of the individual; and (iii) mobilize the individual to
profit from the resulting enhanced social landscape (e.g., by pursuing
gainful activities previously beyond reach or pressing for better
treatment from others). This advertisementrecalibration theory of
pride(33; see also refs. 10, 12, 34) deductively emerges from the
integration of the dynamics of audience recalibration with evolu-
tionary models of human dominance and valuation, which specify the
direction and magnitude of those recalibrations.
Existing findings on pride are strongly consistent with this
theory of its functional architecture. Pride-like behavior is tax-
onomically widespread [including primates (35, 36), cervids (37,
38), canids (39), and invertebrates (40)], and therefore phylo-
genetically ancient. Pride occurs in every known culture (41) and
it appears reliably and early in developmentas early as in
toddlers (42, 43). Pride is triggered by achievements (42), ag-
gressive formidability (44), and other socially valued character-
istics. Pride is a highly pleasant emotion (45); this internal reward
can incentivize people to undertake and persevere at costly but
socially valued courses of action (46, 47). Pride has a full-body
display featuring an erect and expanded posture and gaze di-
rected at the audience (12, 42, 48), and thus it appears to generate
common knowledge about the individuals enhanced value (49).
This display conveys achievement or dominance (10, 12, 50, 51), is
produced by congenitally blind individuals (45), and is recognized by
young children (52) and by adults within and across cultures (53).
Thus, pride and related indicators of being respected and valued
affect second and third parties in lawful fashion: They appeal to
potential mates (54, 55) (presumably because they indicate good
genes, health, resource holding potential, and other types of em-
bodied, social, and material capital); guide social learning through
imitation (56, 57); elicit submissiveness (58); and intimidate rivals
(10, 59), which reduces agonistic interactions (24) and stabilizes
dominance hierarchies (60).
We note that human pride and its obverse, shame, are evo-
lutionarily derived from physiological and behavioral features
undergirding dominance and submission (10, 12, 17, 61, 62)as
articulated by the Dominance Hierarchy Model of pride and
shame (10)and various aspects of those emotions (e.g., the
displays) are homologous with those of nonhuman primates (10).
For example, receiving a pride display may elicit submission,
while receiving a shame display may terminate aggression. Thus,
these two complementary systems reduce overt conflict and
subsequent attacks (refs. 10 and 63; nonhuman primate examples
are in refs. 37, 64, and 65). Pride provides an internal reward for
competitive success, whereas shame punishes failure; since much
animal competition, including human competition, is ultimately
over reproductive opportunities (40, 6668), this may account for
the heightened hubristic pride and, to a lesser extent, shame
observed during adolescence and early adulthood (69).
The decision-making architecture of a social organism should
evaluate and integrate two kinds of payoffs to regulate behavior
adaptively: (i) the direct payoff of the potential action (e.g., the
value of foraging for a food item) and (ii) the social valuation payoff
[e.g., showing bandmates that one is a skilled forager by pursuing a
hard-to-acquire prey item (70)]. According to the advertisement
recalibration theory, the feeling of pride is an internal signal of the
estimated social valuation payoffa payoff that can motivate, for
example, status-seeking behavior.
One central prediction of the theory then is that the intensity
of the feeling of pride will track the magnitude of audience
evaluations incrementally and closely for each kind of informa-
tion. This calibration is necessary if the intensity of the internal
signal (anticipatory pride) is used prospectively to compute
whether the benefit of enhanced audience valuation or respect
outweighs the cost of engaging in a given actand to decide
whether the likely net payoff of a candidate act will make that
act worth pursuing. An internal pride signal that is too weak
| Sznycer et al.
compared with the prevalent magnitude of audience valuation
would lead to maladaptive choices where the relevant act is in-
sufficiently pursued (or if achieved, underadvertised), the in-
crease in valuation in the audience is less than what it would be
under more complete knowledge resulting from fuller adver-
tisement, and the individual foregoes valuation that would have
been cost-effective to acquire. A pride signal that is too strong
yields diminishing or even negative returns, as beneficial courses
of action are pursued in excess of their actual return, and
moreover, audiences are designed to resist and devalue entitled
actions that exceed the individuals actual social value (71, 72).
To avoid these errors, the pride system should estimate the
magnitude of valuation that a given act would cause among local
audiences and calibrate the intensity of its internal signal in
proportion to those estimates. This internal signal is expected to
be equally well-calibrated for traits (e.g., physical formidability)
and other attributes (e.g., sibling of chief) for the individual to
know the right degree of advertisement and entitlement afforded
by those attributes. Pride is sometimes referred to as a self-
conscious (73) or self-focused (74) emotion; however, the pre-
ceding analysis suggests that a well-designed pride system must
be coupled to the evaluative psychology of others. Importantly,
because the internal pride signal is used by the systems that
decide how to act, the intensity of felt pride should track the
magnitude of audience valuation even when there is no com-
munication between audiences and the individual who is evalu-
ating alternative courses of action based on anticipated pride.
The internal pride signal is useful for promoting audience valu-
ation and respect by choosing certain acts, displays, and modes of
conduct over others. The system generating this signal would be
handicapped if it needed to observe audience valuation to know
its magnitude instead of computing those magnitudes in advance.
These predictions were tested experimentally in 16 countries: the
United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium,
The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Israel, India, Singapore,
the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, and Australia (33). Subjects
were given a set of scenarios that tapped situations likely to vary in
how much valuation the actions or traits that they described might
elicit. One group of subjects rated how positively they would eval-
uate the person described in each scenario. A second independent
group of subjects rated how much pride they would feel if they were
the person described in the situation. As predicted, the intensity of
anticipated pride for a given act or trait closely tracked the corre-
sponding magnitude of audience valuation. This result replicated
Fishing communities, Japan
Farming communities, Japan
Tuva, Russia
Shaanxi and Henan, China
Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco
Enugu, Nigeria
Cotopaxi, Ecuador
Le Morne, Mauritius
La Gaulette, Mauritius
Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua
Fig. 1. Map of the 10 field sites.
Table 1. Demographic information (samples AJ)
Community Economy Religion NNfemale Age, y (SD)
Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua Foraging, horticulture Syncretic Catholicism 46 23 40 (12)
Cotopaxi, Ecuador Subsistence agriculture, pastoralism Evangelism 34 25 41 (18)
Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco Subsistence agriculture Sunni Islam 75 43 32 (13)
Enugu, Nigeria Subsistence agriculture Catholicism 80 39 34 (8)
Le Morne, Mauritius Fishing, farming, wage labor Catholicism 80 33 40 (13)
La Gaulette, Mauritius Fishing, farming, service sector Hinduism 80 53 35 (12)
Tuva, Russia Seminomadic pastoralism Shamanism, Buddhism 29 22 36 (13)
Shaanxi and Henan, China Farming Mostly nonreligious 41 17 41 (12)
Farming communities, Japan* Farming, wage labor Buddhism, Shintoism 50 23 68 (11)
Fishing communities, Japan
Fishing, farming, wage labor Buddhism, Shintoism 52 18 66 (12)
Means (SDs in parentheses).
*Participants sampled from 13 communities (in three prefectures) where at least 25% of the residents are farmers.
Participants sampled from 13 communities (in three prefectures) where at least 25% of the residents are fishers.
Sznycer et al. PNAS Latest Articles
in each of the 16 countries. Importantly, valuation was tracked
specifically by pride. Excitement, amusement, and happiness
three other positively valenced and arousing emotions and states
that coactivate with pridefailed to track audience valuation.
Although this 16-nation experiment is suggestive, those pop-
ulations are all western(-ized), educated, industrialized, rich, and
democratic mass societies (75) and importantly, are in close media
contact, sharing many norms, values, and attitudes. Hence, the goal
of these studies is twofold. (i) The claim being evaluated is that the
pride system is a fundamental part of human biology, and therefore,
the signature of its operation should be detectable in all human
societies, no matter how widely distributed and mutually unfamiliar
they are. (ii) By hypothesis, the pride system evolved in small-scale
face-to-face social groups wherepeoplekneweachother,and
therefore, it is important to assess the evidence for its operation in
small coresidential social ecologies.
Is the tracking of audience valuation by pride limited to in-
dustrial mass societies? Or does this tracking occur throughout
the range of human societies, potentially reflecting the operation
of a panhuman pride system? To answer this question, we con-
ducted an experiment with 567 adult participants from 10 small-
scale communities living in widely different physical ecologies
and featuring very different languages, cultures, and modes of
subsistence: (i) Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua; (ii ) Cotopaxi, Ecua-
dor; (iii) Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco; (iv) Enugu, Nigeria; (v)Le
Morne, Mauritius; (vi) La Gaulette, Mauritius; (vii)Tuva,Russia;
(viii) Shaanxi and Henan, China; (ix) farming communities in Japan;
and (x) fishing communities in Japan (Fig. 1 and Table 1). We
created 10 scenarios in which someones acts, traits, or circum-
stances might lead her to be viewed positively. The scenarios were
designed to elicit reactions in a variety of evolutionarily relevant
domains, such as generosity, social exchange, dominance contests,
skills, and health. They were expressed at a level of abstraction that
was not culturally particular (e.g., You have many skillsrather
than You know how to bake and how to pilot airplanes).
The experimental design was adapted from Sznycer et al. (33).
Participants were randomly assigned to either an audience
condition or a pride condition. Participants in the audience con-
dition were asked to provide their reactions to 10 scenarios in-
volving a third party: a same-sex individual other than themselves
(e.g., He has many skills,”“He is generous with others,”“He can
defend himself, so people never push him around). These par-
ticipants were asked, for each scenario, to indicate how you
would view this person if this person was in those situations; they
indicated their reactions using scales ranging from one (I would
not view them positively at all) to four (I would view them very
positively). These ratings provide situation-specific measures of
the degree to which members of a given population would posi-
tively evaluate the individual described in the scenarios.
In the pride condition, a different set of participants was asked to
indicate how much pride you would feel if you were in those sit-
uations(i.e., in each of the 10 scenarios; e.g., You have many
skills,”“You are generous with others,”“You can defend yourself,
so people never push you around), with scales ranging from one
(no pride at all) to four (a lot of pride; the exceptions being Bosawás
Reserve, Nicaragua and Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco, where valuation
and pride were measured on 13and17 scales, respectively). The
stimuli in the audience condition and the pride condition were
identical on a scenario-by-scenario basis, the only difference being
the perspective from which the events are described.
Within-Community Results. First, we report the valuation and pride
results for each community (SI Appendix,SI Text and Tables S1
S2j). There was widespread agreement on how valuation-enhancing
these situations are relative to one another: mean intraclass cor-
relation (ICC) across the 10 communities: ICC (2,n)=0.70 (SI
Appendix,TableS3). In other words, participants agreed about
the extent to which they would positively view the individual de-
scribed in these scenarios. Participants also agreed about the relative
degree to which these various situations would elicit pride:
mean ICC (2,n)=0.61 (SI Appendix,TableS3). To test the main
prediction that pride tracks audience valuation, we calculated, for
each scenario, the mean pride ratings provided by participants in
the pride condition and the mean valuation ratings provided by
participants in the audience condition. Pride and valuation means
were highly correlated with one another within each community,
with a mean r=0.66 (SD =0.24; minimum r=0.36; maximum r=
0.92; Nrvalues =10) and Pvalues =0.00020.31 (Fig. 2 and Table
2, diagonal values). Recall that the pride ratings and the valuation
ratings originate from different participants. Consequently, these
high correlations cannot be attributed to participants matching
their pride ratings and valuation ratings. This is consistent with the
primary hypothesis.
Between-Community Results. The pride system evolved for making
decisions inand tracking the values ofones local group and
not people from other cultures. Obviously, there would have
been no selection to map the valuations of persons with whom
one has never interacted. However, if there is a human-universal
system of social valuation, then scenarios that tap this system
: .78 r
: .41 r
: .80
: .10
: .85 r
: .62 r
: .76
: .17 r
: .13
: .23
Fig. 2. Scatterplots: pride as a function of valuation (samples AJ). Each point
represents the mean pride rating and mean valuation rating of one scenario.
Pride ratings and valuation ratings were given by different participants. Non
which the correlations are based is the number of scenarios =10. Effect size:
linear. (A) Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua; (B) Cotopaxi, Ecuador; (C)Drâa-
Tafilalet, Morocco; (D) Enugu, Nigeria; (E) Le Morne, Mauritius; (F) La Gaulette,
Mauritius; (G) Tuva, Russia; (H) Shaanxi and Henan, China; (I) farming commu-
nities in Japan; and (J) fishing communities in Japan.
| Sznycer et al.
may elicit agreement across cultures about what is worthy of
valuation and pride, and pride in a given culture may track val-
uation in other cultures, despite a lack of contact between them.
Are there situations that provoke valuation and elicit pride
across cultures? To test for between-community agreement in
valuation, in pride, and in the pridevaluation link, we com-
puted the extent to which the mean valuation ratings and the
mean pride ratings are correlated across communities. There is
between-community agreement on average on the extent to
which a given situation would elicit valuation: mean r=0.37
(SD =0.30; minimum r=0.26; maximum r=0.91; Nrvalues =
45) and Pvalues =0.00020.96 (SI Appendix, Table S4). There is
also between-community agreement on the extent to which a
given situation would elicit pride: mean r=0.20 (SD =0.38;
minimum r=0.80; maximum r=0.92; Nrvalues =45) and P
values =0.00020.99 (SI Appendix, Table S5). Furthermore, the
pride elicited in each of 10 communities is positively correlated
on average with the valuation from the other 9 communities:
mean r=0.29 (SD =0.34; minimum r=0.62; maximum r=
0.87; Nrvalues =90) and Pvalues =0.0010.98 (Table 2, off-
diagonal values)71 of these 90 correlations (79% of them)
have a positive sign. Although there is substantial variation in the
extent to which pride tracked valuation across communities, in-
cluding null and negative correlations, the pride elicited by these
scenarios in one community (e.g., Mayangna foragerhorticulturalists
of the Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua) tended to track how positively
people viewed these scenarios in the other communities (e.g.,
pastoralists from Tuva, Russia; Amazigh farmers from Drâa-
Tafilalet, Morocco; and farmers from Enugu, Nigeria). Of course,
some actions, traits, and situations elicit valuation and pride in
some cultures but not others (33, 70).
A cross-culturally replicable, close quantitative correspondence
between anticipated pride and the valuation of local audiences is
what one expects of a computational system that is well-designed
for furthering the social value of the individual in the minds of
others. Features causing this close calibration assist the individ-
ual in balancing the competing demands of effectiveness and
restraint by steering between an internal pride signal that is too
strong (which would lead to, for example, the overpursuit of
socially valued acts) and one that is too weak (which would, for
example, insufficiently motivate acts that are socially valued).
This match is not limited to industrial mass societies but gener-
alizes across populations with widely different cultures, subsistence
modes, institutions, and languages. Thus, this feature is more likely
to originate in a human-universal adaptation designed by natu-
ral selection than in cultural evolutionary processes (76). The
agreement across cultures, and not just within them, on pride,
valuation, and their interrelationship is noteworthy. According to
some accounts, different cultures are richly and arbitrarily different
from each other (77). If this were true, then what cultures value
and what members of different cultures are proud about should be
radically different. Cultural differences in pride and in the un-
derlying items granted respect and valuation do exist, as shown
here and elsewhere (45, 78, 79). However, these cultural differ-
ences can be adaptively patterned (33), and therefore cultural
variation is not necessarily divorced from the logic of adaptive
functionality. Moreover, regularities across vastly disparate cultures
can emerge when pride is analyzed from the standpoint of its
probable function and target domain. These data contribute to
a growing body of findings indicating that theories of adaptive
function are a powerful tool for identifying regularities in the
structure and content of human emotion.
The study procedures were approved by the institutional review boards at the
University of California, Santa Barbara; East China Normal University; the
University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and
the University of Cincinnati, and the research ethics committee of the In-
stitute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences. All of the participants
gave informed consent. The data and study materials are included in Dataset
S1 and SI Appendix, respectively.
Participants. We collected data from 567 participants in Bosawás Reserve,
Nicaragua (sample A); Cotopaxi, Ecuador (sample B); Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco
(sample C); Enugu, Nigeria (sample D); Le Morne, Mauritius (sample E); La
Gaulette, Mauritius (sample F); Tuva, Russia (sample G); Shaanxi and Henan,
China (sample H); farming communities in Japan (sample I); and fishing
communities in Japan (sample J). Sample sizes and demographic information
are described in Table 1.
Procedure. The 10 scenarios are shown in SI Appendix, Tables S2aS2j. Partici-
pants were randomly assigned to either the audience condition or the pride
condition. The language in the scenarios was gendered according to participants
stated gender, except for at the two Japan sites. At both Japan sites, data col-
lection was through self-administered questionnaires sent by mail; here, we used
gender-neutral pronouns and instructed respondents in the audience condition
to imagine the target individual was someone of their same sex and age. Sample
size, order in which the scenarios were administered, method of stimuli ad-
ministration, and language of stimuli are listed in SI Appendix,TableS1.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank two anonymous reviewers. This research
was supported by funding from Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations,
Russian Federation Grant 0159-2016-0001 (to K.I.A. and A.N.K.), Japan Soci-
ety for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI Grant 26780343 (to K.T.), and
John Templeton Foundation (JTF) Grant 29468 (to L.C. and J.T.). The opinions
expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily
reflect the views of the JTF or the other funding agencies.
Table 2. Correlations between pride and valuation within and between communities (samples AJ)
(A) Bosawás Reserve, Nicaragua 0.88* 0.07 0.77* 0.60 0.56 0.57 0.87* 0.46 0.16 0.33
(B) Cotopaxi, Ecuador 0.62 0.64* 0.16 0.01 0.06 0.05 0.24 0.35 0.77* 0.86*
(C) Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco 0.77* 0.03 0.87* 0.77* 0.63 0.59 0.80* 0.22 0.32 0.31
(D) Enugu, Nigeria 0.11 0.35 0.76* 0.92* 0.39 0.33 0.68* 0.16 0.04 0.09
(E) Le Morne, Mauritius 0.60 0.11 0.56 0.37 0.79* 0.72* 0.65* 0.47 0.33 0.48
(F) La Gaulette, Mauritius 0.37 0.26 0.43 0.52 0.77* 0.87* 0.64* 0.51 0.09 0.10
(G) Tuva, Russia 0.51 0.04 0.39 0.39 0.05 0.45 0.36 0.32 0.05 0.12
(H) Shaanxi and Henan, China 0.20 0.05 0.39 0.24 0.80* 0.58 0.53 0.42 0.03 0.23
(I) Farming communities, Japan 0.10 0.43 0.42 0.62 0.06 0.19 0.29 0.48 0.36 0.36
(J) Fishing communities, Japan 0.02 0.44 0.41 0.52 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.46 0.51 0.48
Coefficients are Pearsonsrvalues. Non which the correlations are based is the number of scenarios =10. Pride ratings and
valuation ratings were given by different participants. Grey cells, within-community correlations.
*Correlations meet P<0.05 or less.
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| Sznycer et al.

Supplementary resources (2)

... However, individual achievement has different connotations and appraisals, and evokes different emotions depending on the cultural context. Individual achievement is culturally valued in North American cultural contexts and is linked with the emotion of pride (Imada & Ellsworth, 2011;Stoeber et al., 2013; see also Sznycer et al., 2018). Whereas in Japanese contexts, individual achievement is overshadowed by the potential to "stand out" being in conflict with the value of social harmony (Nakane, 1970). ...
Japan's remuneration systems are moving away from seniority‐based pay towards individual performance‐based pay. We tested how the latter system works within the Japanese cultural context and whether the operation and functioning of the system reflects general psychological tendencies found in Japan. Japanese (Study 1 n = 197; Study 2 n = 235) and European American (Study 1 n = 201; Study 2 n = 186) participants read vignettes that described workplace success centred on a focal employee and including a team. Participants attributed contribution and rewards (financial and status) to a range of agents and factors with graded levels of focus, from the focal employee having the greatest and luck having the least. In general, we found that Japanese participants attributed greater contribution and reward to less focal agents and factors while European American participants attributed greater contribution and reward to more focal agents, in addition to some specific differences between the tasks and reward types. We discuss implications for more nuanced theorizing of the interaction between institutional systems and psychological processes.
... Emotions and status are tightly intertwined (see, e.g., Tiedens, 2001;Shariff and Tracy, 2009;van Kleef and Lange, 2020;Durkee, 2021). For example, adaptationist views suggest that pride tracks status gains and motivates individuals to garner greater valuation and respect from others (e.g., Sznycer et al., 2017Sznycer et al., , 2018bDurkee et al., 2019;Cohen et al., 2020;Sznycer and Cohen, 2021). ...
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Status is a universal feature of human sociality. A lesser-studied adaptive problem surrounding status is assessing who has which levels of status in a given group (e.g., identifying which people possess high status). Here, we integrate theory and methods from evolutionary social science, animal behavior, and social psychology, and we use an emotion inference paradigm to investigate what cues render people high status in the eyes of social perceivers. This paradigm relies on robust associations between status and emotion display—particularly the anger display. If a target is expected to enact (but not necessarily feel) anger, this would suggest that social perceivers view that target as higher status. By varying target attributes, we test whether those attributes are considered status cues in the eyes of social perceivers. In two well-powered, pre-registered experiments in the United States (N = 451) and India (N = 378), participants read one of eight vignettes about a male or female target—described as high or low in either physical strength or physical attractiveness (possible status cues)—who is thwarted by another person, and then reported expectations of the target’s felt and enacted anger. We find that people expected physically stronger (versus less strong) men and more (versus less) physically attractive women to enact greater anger when thwarted by a same-sex other. Strength had no significant effect on estimations of female status and attractiveness had no significant effect on estimations of male status. There were no differences in expectations of felt anger. Results suggest that people use men’s strength and women’s attractiveness as status cues. Moreover, results underscore the notion that focusing on male-typical cues of status might obscure our understanding of the female status landscape. We discuss how this paradigm might be fruitfully employed to examine and discover other unexplored cues of male and female status.
... Participants. The Nicaraguan community sampled for this research was comprised of indigenous Mayangna horticulturalists living primarily in the forested region of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve [26][27][28][29] . We aimed to recruit as many members of this community as possible,ultimately the sample included more than approximately 90% of the adult members of the community: 119 individuals (65 female) who ranged from age 18 to 75 (M age = 34.23; ...
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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.
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What is the trigger of shame? The information threat theory holds that shame is an evolved adaptation that is designed to limit the likelihood and costs of others forming negative beliefs about the self. By contrast, attributional theories posit that concerns over others’ evaluations are irrelevant to shame. Instead, shame is triggered when a person attributes a negative outcome to their self, rather than to a particular act or circumstance. We conduct a strong test of the information threat hypothesis. In Study 1, participants imagined taking an action that, though morally unimpeachable, could be interpreted unfavorably by others. As predicted by the information threat theory, shame increased with the publicity of this act. In Study 2, participants played a public good game and then learned that the other participants either chose to keep interacting with them (inclusion) or not (exclusion)—ostensibly because of their contributions, but in fact randomly determined by the experimenter. Exclusion increased shame. Under-contribution did not. In fact, even the highest contributors tended to feel shame when excluded. These findings strongly suggest that the true trigger of shame is the prospect or actuality of being devalued by others.
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Significance Cross-cultural tests from 16 nations were performed to evaluate the hypothesis that the emotion of pride evolved to guide behavior to elicit valuation and respect from others. Ancestrally, enhanced evaluations would have led to increased assistance and deference from others. To incline choice, the pride system must compute for a potential action an anticipated pride intensity that tracks the magnitude of the approval or respect that the action would generate in the local audience. All tests demonstrated that pride intensities measured in each location closely track the magnitudes of others’ positive evaluations. Moreover, different cultures echo each other both in what causes pride and in what elicits positive evaluations, suggesting that the underlying valuation systems are universal.
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Significance Much of human behavior results from a desire for social status. From an evolutionary perspective, answering the question of why we pursue status must consider how status affects reproduction, especially in nonindustrial societies with natural fertility. In a metaanalysis of 288 results from 33 nonindustrial populations, we find that status is significantly associated with men’s reproductive success, consistent with an evolved basis for status pursuit. Status hierarchies have changed dramatically throughout human history, yet we find that the association between status and reproductive success does not depend on subsistence category (foraging, horticulture, pastoralism, agriculture) or how status is measured. These findings suggest no significant increase in selection on status-enhancing traits with the domestication of plants and animals.
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Significance Prominent theories of shame hold that shame is inherently maladaptive. However, direct tests of the fit between shame and its probable target domain have not previously been conducted. Here we test the alternative hypothesis that shame, although unpleasant (like pain), serves the adaptive function of defending against the social devaluation that results when negative information reaches others—by deterring actions that would lead to more devaluation than benefits, for example. If so, the intensity of shame people feel regarding a given item of negative information should track the devaluation that would happen if that item became known. Indeed, the data indicate a close match between shame intensities and audience devaluation, which suggests that shame is an adaptation.
Two studies examine complementarity (vs. mimicry) of dominant and submissive nonverbal behaviors. In the first study, participants interacted with a confederate who displayed either dominance (through postural expansion) or submission (through postural constriction). On average. participants exposed to a dominant confederate decreased their postural stance, whereas participants exposed to a submissive confederate increased their stance. Further, participants with complementing response,, (dominance in response to submission and submission in response to dominance) liked their partner more and were more comfortable than those who mimicked. In the second study, complementarity and mimicry were manipulated, and complementarity resulted in more liking and comfort than mimicry. The findings speak to the likelihood of hierarchical differentiation.