DELIBERATION ERODES COOPERATIVE BEHAVIOUR
By many accounts cooperation appears to be a default strategy in social interaction. There are, however, several documented instances in which reflexive responding favors aggressive behaviors: for example, interactions with out-group members. We conduct a rigorous test of potential boundary conditions of intuitive prosociality by looking at whether intuition favors cooperation even towards competitive out-group members, and even in losses frames. Moreover, we address three major methodological limitations of previous research in this area: a lack of an unconstrained control condition; non-compliance with time manipulations leading to high rates of exclusions and thus a selection bias; and non-comprehension of the structure of the game. Even after eliminating participant selection bias and non-comprehension, we find that deliberation decreases cooperation: even in competitive contexts towards out-groups and even in a losses frame, though the differences in cooperation between groups was consistent across conditions. People may be intuitive cooperators, but they are not intuitively impartial.
Everett, J.A.C., Ingbretsen, Z., Cushman, F., & Cikara, M. (In press). Deliberation erodes cooperative behavior–even towards competitive out-groups, even when using a control condition, and even when eliminating selection bias. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
INFERENCE OF TRUSTWORTHINESS FROM INTUITIVE MORAL JUDGMENTS
Moral judgments play a critical role in motivating and enforcing human cooperation, and research on the proximate mechanisms of moral judgments highlights the importance of intuitive, automatic processes in forming such judgments. Intuitive moral judgments often share characteristics with deontological theories in normative ethics, which argue that certain acts (such as killing) are absolutely wrong, regardless of their consequences. Why do moral intuitions typically follow deontological prescriptions, as opposed to those of other ethical theories? Here, we test a functional explanation for this phenomenon by investigating whether agents who express deontological moral judgments are more valued as social partners. Across 5 studies, we show that people who make characteristically deontological judgments are preferred as social partners, perceived as more moral and trustworthy, and are trusted more in economic games. These findings provide empirical support for a partner choice account of moral intuitions whereby typically deontological judgments confer an adaptive function by increasing a person’s likelihood of being chosen as a cooperation partner. Therefore, deontological moral intuitions may represent an evolutionarily prescribed prior that was selected for through partner choice mechanisms.
Everett, J.A.C., Pizarro, D., & Crockett, M.J. (2016). Inference of trustworthiness from intuitive moral judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
HOW GOOD IS THE SAMARITAN?
What is the extent and nature of religious prosociality? If religious prosociality exists, is it parochial and extended selectively to co-religionists, or is it generalized regardless of the recipient? Further, is it driven by preferences to help others or by expectations of reciprocity? We examined how much of a $0.30 bonus Mechanical Turk workers would share with the other player whose religion was prominently displayed during two online resource allocation games. In one game (but not the other), the recipient could choose to reciprocate. Results from both games showed that the more central religion was in participants’ lives, the more of the bonus they shared, regardless of whether they were giving to atheists or Christians. Furthermore, this effect was most clearly related to self-reported frequency of “thinking about religious ideas”, rather than belief in God or religious practice/experience. Our findings provide evidence of generalized religious prosociality and illuminate its basis.
Everett, J.A.C., Haque, O.S., & Rand, D.G. (2016). How Good is the Samaritan, and Why? An Experimental Investigation of the Extent and Nature of Religious Prosociality Using Economic Games. Social Psychological and Personality Science.
SOCIAL HEURISTICS AND SOCIAL ROLES
Are humans intuitively altruistic, or does altruism require self-control? A theory of social heuristics, whereby intuitive responses favor typically successful behaviors, suggests that the answer may depend on who you are. In particular, evidence suggests that women are expected to behave altruistically, and are punished for failing to be altruistic, to a much greater extent than men. Thus, women (but not men) may internalize altruism as their intuitive response. Indeed, a meta-analysis of 13 new experiments and 9 experiments from other groups found that promoting intuition increased giving in a Dictator Game among women, but not among men (Study 1). Furthermore, this effect was shown to be moderated by explicit sex role identification (Study 2, N=1,831): the more women described themselves using traditionally masculine attributes (e.g., dominance, independence) relative to traditionally feminine attributes (e.g., warmth, tenderness), the more deliberation reduced their altruism. Our findings shed light on the connection between gender and altruism, and highlight the importance of social heuristics in human prosociality.
Rand, D.G., Brescoll, V., Everett, J.A.C., Capraro, V., & Barcelo, H. (2016). Social Heuristics and Social Roles: Intuition Favors Altruism for Women But Not for Men. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
SOCIAL PREFERENCES AND REPUTATIONAL CONCERNS
To what extent do people help ingroup members based on a social preference to improve ingroup members’ outcomes, versus strategic concerns about preserving their reputation within their group? And do these motives manifest differently when a prosocial behaviour occurs in the context of helping another gain a positive outcome (study 1), versus helping another to avoid losing a positive outcome (study 2)? In both contexts, we find that participants are more prosocial towards ingroup (versus outgroup members) and more prosocial when decisions are public (versus private) but find no interaction between group membership and either anonymity of the decision or expected economic value of helping. Therefore, consistent with a preference-based account of ingroup favouritism, people appear to prefer to help ingroup members more than outgroup members, regardless of whether helping can improve their reputation within their group. Moreover, this preference to help ingroup members appears to take the form of an intuitive social heuristic to help ingroup members, regardless of the economic incentives or possibility of reputation management. Theoretical and practical implications for the study of intergroup prosocial behaviour are discussed.
Everett, J.A.C., Faber, N., & Crockett, M. (2015). The influence of social preferences and reputational concerns on intergroup behavior in gains and losses contexts. Royal Society Open Science.
A TRAGEDY OF THE (ACADEMIC) COMMONS
Several proposals for addressing the “replication crisis” in social psychology have been advanced in the recent literature. In this paper, we argue that the “crisis” be interpreted as a disciplinary social dilemma, with the problem facing early-career researchers being especially acute. To resolve this collective action problem, we offer a structural solution: as a condition of receiving their Ph.D. from any accredited institution, graduate students in psychology should be required to conduct, write up, and submit for publication a high-quality replication attempt of at least one key finding from the literature, focusing on the area of their doctoral research. We consider strengths, weaknesses, and implementation challenges associated with this proposal, and call on our colleagues to offer critical response.
Everett, J.A.C.**, & Earp, B.D.** (2015). A Tragedy of the (Academic) Commons: Interpreting the Replication Crisis in Psychology as a Social Dilemma for Early-Career Researchers. Frontiers in Psychology.
PREFERENCES AND BELIEFS IN INGROUP FAVOURITISM
Ingroup favouritism – the tendency to favour members of one’s own group over those in other groups – is well documented, but the mechanisms driving this behavior are not well understood. In particular, it is unclear to what extent ingroup favouritism is driven by preferences concerning the welfare of ingroup over outgroup members, versus beliefs about the behaviour of ingroup and outgroup members. In this review we analyse research on ingroup favouritism in economic games, identifying key gaps in the literature and providing suggestions on how future work can incorporate these insights to shed further light on when, why, and how ingroup favouritism occurs. In doing so, we demonstrate how social psychological theory and research can be integrated with findings from behavioral economics, providing new theoretical and methodological directions for future research.
Everett, J.A.C., Faber, N.S., & Crockett, M. (2015). Preferences and beliefs in ingroup favouritism. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience 9(15).
FOR THE GREATER GOOD?
A growing body of research has focused on so-called ‘utilitarian’ judgments in moral dilemmas in which participants have to choose whether to sacrifice one person in order to save the lives of a greater number. However, the relation between such ‘utilitarian’ judgments and genuine utilitarian impartial concern for the greater good remains unclear. Across four studies, we investigated the relationship between ‘utilitarian’ judgment in such sacrificial dilemmas and a range of traits, attitudes, judgments and behaviors that either reflect or reject an impartial concern for the greater good of all. In Study 1, we found that rates of ‘utilitarian’ judgment were associated with a broadly immoral outlook concerning clear ethical transgressions in a business context, as well as with sub-clinical psychopathy. In Study 2, we found that ‘utilitarian’ judgment was associated with greater endorsement of rational egoism, less donation of money to a charity, and less identification with the whole of humanity, a core feature of classical utilitarianism. In Studies 3 and 4, we found no association between ‘utilitarian’ judgments in sacrificial dilemmas and characteristic utilitarian judgments relating to assistance to distant people in need, self- sacrifice and impartiality, even when the utilitarian justification for these judgments was made explicit and unequivocal. This lack of association remained even when we controlled for the antisocial element in ‘utilitarian’ judgment. Taken together, these results suggest that there is little relation between sacrificial judgments in the hypothetical dilemmas that dominate current research and a genuine utilitarian approach to ethics.
Kahane, G., Everett, J.A.C.**, Earp., B.D., Farias, M., & Savulescu, J. (2015). 'Utilitarian' judgments in sacrificial dilemmas do not reflect impartial concern for the greater good. Cognition.
METHODS IN PAROCHIAL ALTRUISM
In this paper, we take stock of exciting new directions and methods in the psychological study of parochial altruism. We argue that to enrich our understanding of the psychological processes underlying parochial altruism, researchers could (continue to) incorporate methods and insights developed and popularized in adjacent disciplines, such as behavioral economics and social neuroscience. First, we highlight how the discipline of behavioural economics and its associated methodology of economic games can enrich our psychological understanding of parochial altruism through exploring the manifestation of, and psychological mechanisms driving, parochial altruism in both gains and losses contexts. Second, we consider the social neuroscientific approach, highlighting how research into neuromodulators has advanced our understanding of parochial altruism by outlining differential influences of the neuromodulators testosterone and oxytocin on ingroup cooperation and outgroup discrimination. Given that parochial altruism is at root an interdisciplinary phenomenon, it would be a pity if each discipline that studies it does so from and within its own silo. With greater incorporation of these new directions in parochial altruism, scientists can enrich their understanding as to when, why, and how people help members of their own group more than other groups, and even harm members of other groups.
Everett, J.A.C., Faber, N.S., Crockett, M., & De Dreu, C.K.W. (2015). Economic Games and Social Neuroscience Methods Can Help Elucidate The Psychology of Parochial Altruism. Frontiers in Psychology - Evolutionary Psychology and Neuroscience.
COVERED IN STIGMA
Given the prominence of Muslim veils—in particular the hijab and full-face veil—in public discourse concerning the place of Muslims in Western society, we examined their impact on non-Muslims’ responses at both explicit and implicit levels. Results revealed that responses were more negative toward any veil compared with no veil, and more negative toward the full-face veil relative to the hijab: for emotions felt toward veiled women (Study 1), for non-affective attitudinal responses (Study 2), and for implicit negative attitudes revealed through response latency measures (Studies 3a and 3b). Finally, we manipulated the perceived reasons for wearing a veil, finding that exposure to positive reasons for wearing a veil led to better predicted and imagined contact (Study 4). Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.
Everett, J.A.C., Schellhaas, F.M.H., Earp, B.D., Ando, V., Memarzia, J., Parise, C., Fell, B., & Hewstone, M. (2015). Covered in stigma? The impact of differing levels of Islamic head-covering on explicit and implicit biases towards Muslim women. Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
POLITICAL DIVERSITY AND THE DILEMMA OF DISCLOSURE
Many of the proposed recommendations for remedying the harmful effects of political homogeneity for psychology depend upon conservatives disclosing their political identity. Yet how likely is this, when disclosure is so harmful to the individual? Considering this issue as a social dilemma clarifies the pernicious nature of the problem, as well as suggesting how the dilemma can be resolved.
This article is a published commentary on Duarte et al's paper entitled 'Political Diversity will Improve Social Psychological Science'.
Everett, J.A.C. (2015). “Wait – you’re a conservative?”: Political Diversity and the Dilemma of Disclosure. Behavioural and Brain Sciences.
DOING GOOD BY DOING NOTHING
We explore whether the known preference for default options in choice contexts – default effects –occur in altruistic contexts, and the extent to which this can be explained through appeal to social norms. In four experiments, we found that: (a) participants were more likely to donate money to charity when this was the default option in an altruistic choice context (b) participants perceived the default option to be the socially normative option; (c) perceptions of social norms mediated the relationship between default status and charitable donations; (d) a transfer effect, whereby participants translated social norms they inferred from the default option in one domain into behavior in a second, related domain. Theoretically, our analysis situates default effects within a comprehensive body of social psychological research concerning social norms and the attitude-behavior relationship, providing novel empirical predictions. Practically, these findings highlight that the way donation policies are framed can have an important impact on donation behavior: in our third study we found that 81% donated half of their earnings for taking part in the experiment to charity when this was the default option, compared to only 19% when keeping the money was the default. Our work suggests that making use of default effects could be an effective tool to increase altruistic behavior without compromising freedom.
Everett, J.A.C., Caviola, L., Kahane, G., Savulescu, J., & Faber, N.S. (2014). Doing good by doing nothing? The role of social norms in explaining default effects in altruistic contexts. European Journal of Social Psychology.
THE EVALUABILITY BIAS IN CHARITABLE GIVING
We describe the “evaluability bias”: the tendency to weight the importance of an attribute in proportion to its ease of evaluation. We propose that the evaluability bias influences decision making in the context of charitable giving: people tend to have a strong preference for charities with low overhead ratios (lower administrative expenses) but not for charities with high cost-effectiveness (greater number of saved lives per dollar), because the former attribute is easier to evaluate than the latter. In line with this hypothesis, we report the results of four studies showing that, when presented with a single charity, people are willing to donate more to a charity with low overhead ratio, regardless of cost-effectiveness. However, when people are presented with two charities simultaneously—thereby enabling comparative evaluation—they base their donation behavior on cost-effectiveness (Study 1). This suggests that people primarily value cost-effectiveness but manifest the evaluability bias in cases where they find it difficult to evaluate. However, people seem also to value a low overhead ratio for its own sake (Study 2). The evaluability bias effect applies to charities of different domains (Study 3). We also show that overhead ratio is easier to evaluate when its presentation format is a ratio, suggesting an inherent reference point that allows meaningful interpretation (Study 4).
Caviola, L., Faulmüller, N., Everett, J.A.C., Savulescu, J., & Kahane, G. (2014). The evaluability bias in charitable giving: Saving administration costs or saving lives? Journal of Judgment and Decision Making.
DOES AMYGDALA RESPONSE REFLECT THREAT?
Prejudice is an enduring and pervasive aspect of human cognition. An emergent trend in modern psychology has focused on understanding how cognition is linked to neural function, leading researchers to investigate the neural correlates of prejudice. Research in this area using racial group memberships has quickly highlighted the amygdala as a neural structure of importance. In this article, we offer a critical review of social neuroscientific studies of the amygdala in race-related prejudice. Rather than the dominant interpretation that amygdala activity reflects a racial or outgroup bias per se, we argue that the observed pattern of sensitivity in this literature is best considered in terms of potential threat. More specifically, we argue that negative culturally-learned associations between black males and potential threat better explain the observed pattern of amygdala activity. Finally, we consider future directions for the field and offer specific experiments and predictions to directly address unanswered questions.
Chekroud, A.M., Everett, J.A.C., Bridge, H., & Hewstone, M (2014). A review of neuroimaging studies of race-related prejudice: Does amygdala response reflect threat? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 5:179. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00179
OUT, DAMNED SPOT
In a much-publicized paper, Zhong and Liljenquist (2006) reported evidence that feelings of moral cleanliness are grounded in feelings of physical cleanliness: a threat to people’s moral purity leads them to seek, literally, to cleanse themselves. In an attempt to replicate and build upon these findings, we conducted a pilot study in which we unexpectedly failed to replicate the original results from the second study of Zhong and Liljenquist’s report. To investigate the source of this issue, we conducted a series of direct replications of Study 2 as reported in Zhong and Liljenquist (2006). We used the authors’ original materials and methods; we investigated samples that were more representative of the general population than in the original experiments; we investigated samples from different countries and cultures; and we substantially increased the power of our statistical tests. Nevertheless, we still failed to replicate Zhong and Liljenquist’s initial reported findings. Our research suggests that more work is needed to clarify the scope and robustness of the original results.
Data files for this paper can be accessed here.
Earp, B. D., Everett, J. A. C., Madva, E. N., & Hamlin, J. K. (2014). Out, damned spot: Can the “Macbeth Effect” be replicated? Basic and Applied Social Psychology 39 (1), p91-98.
THE 12 ITEM SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSERVATISM SCALE (SECS)
Recent years have seen a surge in psychological research on the relationship between political ideology (particularly conservatism) and cognition, affect, behaviour, and even biology. Despite this flurry of investigation, however, there is as yet no accepted, validated, and widely used multi-item scale of conservatism that is concise, modern in its conceptualisation, and that includes both social and economic conservatism subscales. In this paper the 12-Item Social and Economic Conservatism Scale (SECS) is proposed and validated to help fill this gap. The SECS is suggested to be an important and useful tool for researchers working in political psychology.
Further details on the scale can be found here.
Everett, J. A. C. (2013). The 12 Item Social and Economic Conservative Scale (SECS). PlosOne 8(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082131
IS THE N170 FACE SPECIFIC?
In cognitive science, there is an ongoing debate about the architecture of the mind: does it consist of a number of mental “organs” each managing a different function in isolation, or is it more of general processor, adaptable to a wide range of tasks? One corner of this debate has centered on face processing. This is because face-perception is crucial to normal human functioning and some evidence shows that faces may be processed by the brain in a privileged way compared to other types of stimuli. For example, in EEG brain recordings, the N170 is a characteristic signal that occurs after a participant is exposed to an image of a face, but it is much less pronounced when other stimuli are shown. More than 15 years of research on the “N170 face effect” have yielded the standard view that the N170 is at the very least face-sensitive, and possibly even face-specific, that is, indexing modular processes tied exclusively to facial geometries. The specificity claim is clearly stronger, and hence subject to significant controversy; while the more conservative “sensitivity” claim had been regarded (until recently) as effectively settled. Nevertheless, Thierry and colleagues, in a contentious 2007 article, sought to undermine even this ‘conservative’ consensus: they argued that the apparent face-responsiveness of the N170 in prior research was due to systematic flaws in experimental design. Fiery debate has followed. In this review, we put the debate in its historical and philosophical context, and try to spell out some of the theoretical and logical assumptions that underlie the claims of the competing camps. We then show that the best available evidence counts, at least partially, against the Thierry et al. construal of the N170. Accordingly, it would be premature to abandon the “conservative” account of the N170, according to which it is— minimally—responsive to faces. We conclude by returning to the more controversial claim about face-specificity, and try to clarify what such a view would entail from a theoretical standpoint.
Earp, B., & Everett, J.A.C (2012) Is the N170 face specific? Controversy, context, and theory. Neuropsychological Trends 13(1):7-26. doi:10.7358/neur-2013-013-earp.