Evidence that cheaters may look different from cooperators

Abstract (Via Lse.ac.uk)

Cosmides and Tooby argue that humans possess a domain-specific cheater detection module, which allows them to keep track of who has honored and who has violated social contracts. Consistent with this logic, others demonstrate that humans better recognize faces of known cheaters than those of known cooperators. We show, in Experiments 1–3, that humans better recognize faces of cheaters than those of cooperators when they do not know who are cheaters and cooperators. Experiment 4 demonstrates, however, that humans think they recognize cheaters’ faces even when they have not seen them before. The results of these experiments suggest that cheaters might look different from cooperators, possibly due to beliefs and personality traits that make them less ideal exchange partners, and the human mind might be capable of picking up on subtle visual cues that cheaters’ faces give off.

Introducion (Via Lse.ac.uk)

Cosmides (1989) and Cosmides and Tooby (1992) have argued that humans possess a cognitive mechanism for social exchange in the form of a domain-specific cheater detection module, which allows them to keep track of who has honored and who has violated social contracts in the past. Consistent with this logic, Mealey, Daood, and Krage (1996) and Oda (1997) found that people remember faces of known cheaters better than those of known cooperators. Mealey et al.’s (1996) subjects were shown pictures of men fictitiously labeled either as trustworthy or untrustworthy, whereas Oda’s (1997) subjects saw pictures of individuals with fictitious information indicating whether they had cooperated or defected in a Prisoner’s Dilemma Game (PDG). In both experiments, the subjects were then shown the original photographs together with a set of filler pictures and asked which faces they had seen before. Recognition rates for faces of putatively untrustworthy men or defectors were higher than for faces of putatively trustworthy men or cooperators.

In this paper, we address a related but separate question of whether people remember real defectors’ faces better than those of cooperators without being told who are defectors or cooperators. In the experiments by Mealey et al. (1996) and Oda (1997), subjects were provided with explicit, fictitious information about the prior behavior of each photographed person, with stimuli counterbalanced in such a way that better recall of the faces of alleged cheaters could not reflect any difference in the memorability of the faces themselves. Here, we ask whether people recognize faces of real cheaters better than those of real cooperators without explicit designation of the faces as cheaters or cooperators. In Experiments 1–3, we show that humans indeed remember faces of real cheaters better than those of cooperators. Experiment 4 demonstrates, however, that people think they recognize the faces of cheaters even when they have not seen them before. The results of these experiments suggest that cheaters actually look different from cooperators, possibly due to certain beliefs and personality traits that make them less ideal exchange partners, and that the human mind is capable of picking up on subtle visual cues that cheaters’ faces give off

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11. February 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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