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Reputation Mechanisms and the Long-Term Consequences of Cooperative Behavior

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Title: Reputation Mechanisms and the Long-Term Consequences of Cooperative Behavior
Author: Sparks, Adam
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Barclay, Pat
Abstract: This thesis applies evolutionary theories to a series of empirical investigations of the psychological mechanisms that produce cooperative behaviour. I pay special attention to the long-term social consequences of current behaviour, i.e. reputational consequences, and to the interdisciplinary relevance of my findings. In chapters 1 and 2, I show that invalid social cues have similar effects on cooperative behaviour as the corresponding genuine cues, but only for a short time. Cooperation increases in response to information suggesting someone is watching us (Chapter 1) or disapproves of our recent behavior (Chapter 2), until it becomes clear that long-run consequences are unlikely. These studies demonstrate adaptive developmental plasticity of reputation mechanisms and begin to integrate evolutionary theories of social behaviour with classic psychological theories of learning and with recent theories about the maintenance of public goods in the field of Economics. Chapter 3 attempts to integrate evolutionary social theories with the study of risk-taking, arguing that common mechanisms underlie social behaviour and risky asocial behaviour. In support, I show that public—but not private—selfishness is associated with measures of general risk preference. In Chapter 4 I argue that investigations of mechanisms of impression formation in the field of Social Psychology would benefit from increased consideration of the function of such mechanisms: they function to calibrate our current behavior based on the likely future behavior of others. This functional theory demands evidence that humans can predict the behavior of those with incentive to deceive us. I successfully replicate one of the few studies to provide such evidence: People can predict each other’s Prisoner’s Dilemma Game decisions with above-chance accuracy after a brief conversation. Finally, in a general discussion, I suggest future lines of study regarding learning about social cues, the long-run psychology of economic games, and the social psychology of the Internet.
Date: 2015-05
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada