Sunday, June 08, 2008

Some Links

Authoritarianism: The Role of Threat, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Will
to Power

Brad Hastings & Barbara Shaffer
Theory & Psychology, June 2008, Pages 423-440

It has been demonstrated empirically and theoretically that threat is a primary contributor to the increased manifestations of the authoritarian personality. However, most conceptualizations of authoritarianism have failed to explore how these manifestations may have an adaptive value in the face of threat. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to employ the theories of evolutionary psychology in an attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism. Attention is given to specific psychological mechanisms, such as coalition formation and social exchange, that when utilized by the authoritarian individual under conditions of threat, demonstrate adaptive value. Furthermore, a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism is offered that encompasses variables related to authoritarianism, its association with a fundamental need to belong, and its larger philosophical relationship to Nietzsche's `will to power.'


Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy

Pedro Dal Bó, Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman
NBER Working Paper, May 2008

A novel experiment is used to show that the effect of a policy on the level of cooperation is greater when it is chosen democratically by the subjects than when it is exogenously imposed. In contrast to the previous literature, our experimental design allows us to control for selection effects (e.g. those who choose the policy may be affected differently by it). Our finding implies that democratic institutions may affect behavior directly in addition to having effects through the choice of policies. Our findings have implications for the generalizability of the results of randomized policy interventions.


On the Usefulness of Memory Skills in Social Interactions: Modifying the
Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

Isabell Winkler, Klaus Jonas & Udo Rudolph
Journal of Conflict Resolution, June 2008, Pages 375-384

The present experiment introduces a modification of the iterated prisoner's dilemma (PD). In contrast to classical dilemma situations with only one interaction partner, participants (N = 120) interacted with five fictitious interaction partners within one game, either in a random order (change condition) or against each of the interaction partners in succession (block condition). The authors assume that the change condition simulates the social interactions of a real environment more accurately and that individual memory skills are more important in the change condition as compared to the block condition. As dependent variables, the participants' score in the game was recorded, as well as the participants' memory
performance concerning information about their interaction partners. Results show that good memory performance with respect to biographical information leads to higher scores only in the condition with changing interaction partners, but not in the block condition.


Sociality, selection, and survival: Simulated evolution of mortality with
intergenerational transfers and food sharing

Ronald Lee
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Why do humans survive so long past reproductive age, and why does juvenile mortality decline after birth, both contrary to the classic theory of aging? Previous work has shown formally that intergenerational transfers can explain both these patterns. Here, simulations confirm those results under weaker assumptions and explore how different social arrangements shape life-history evolution. Simulated single-sex hunter–gatherers survive, forage, reproduce, and share food with kin and nonkin in ways guided by the ethnographic literature. Natural selection acts on probabilistically occurring deleterious mutations. Neither stable population age distributions nor homogeneous genetic lineages are assumed. When food is shared only
within kin groups, an infant death permits reallocation of its unneeded food to the infant's kin, offsetting the fitness cost of the death and weakening the force of selection against infant mortality. Thus, evolved infant mortality is relatively high, more so in larger kin groups. Food sharing with nonkin reduces the costs to kin of child rearing, but also reduces the resources recaptured by kin after an infant death, so evolved infant mortality is lower. Postreproductive adults transfer food to descendants, enhancing their growth and survival, so postreproductive survival is selected. The force of selection for old-age survival depends in omplicated ways on the food-sharing arrangements. Population-level food sharing with
nonkin leads to the classic pattern of constant low mortality up to sexual maturity and no postreproductive survival.

(Nod to KL, with Thanks!)

1 comment:

Justin M Ross said...

Just a note, our population density is extremely low as well, as demonstrated in the first two posts here:

by yours truly.