Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


Yet another paper on cheater dection

Looking for loss in all the wrong places: loss avoidance does not explain cheater detection

Fiddick; Rutherford

Evolution and Human Behavior(volume 27 issue 6)


The ability to detect cheaters has been proposed as an adaptive design feature of psychological adaptations for cooperation. This proposal has been tested with studies on the Wason selection task, which purportedly demonstrate that humans possess a specific competence for detecting cheaters in cooperative interactions. An alternative set of theories suggests that people are not looking for cheaters per se, but are looking for losses in an effort to maximize their utility. In previous investigations of cheater detection, cheating has been confounded with someone suffering a loss. We sought to test rival accounts of cheater detection by devising versions of the selection task in which cheating is unconfounded with losses. The results suggest that people are competent at detecting cheaters even when no losses are involved, lending support to the view that cheater detection is a specific design feature of psychological adaptations for cooperation.