Biased Foresight as an Evolutionary Strategy for Eliciting Cooperation

Bulley, Adam (2014). Biased Foresight as an Evolutionary Strategy for Eliciting Cooperation Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Bulley, Adam
Thesis Title Biased Foresight as an Evolutionary Strategy for Eliciting Cooperation
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Bill von Hippel
Thomas Suddendorf
Total pages 78
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Humans systematically overestimate the likelihood and emotional outcomes of future events. Such exaggerations may increase the appeal of a goal to others deciding whether to cooperate in its pursuit, and this hyperbole may be more convincing if the exaggerator comes to believe it as well. It has therefore been suggested that people might lie to themselves about the future because of a benefit this confers in eliciting cooperation towards future goals. This experiment explored the possibility that people might strategically and self-deceptively exaggerate the likelihood and positive emotional outcomes of goal success when attempting to convince others to collaborate in its pursuit. Results from a group competition experiment demonstrated that individuals who stood to secretly win money if their group voted for one game over another consistently predicted that their team would be more likely to win that game, and that this success would lead to greater happiness. Furthermore, participants with no monetary stake in the group’s choice exhibited no differences in their ratings between the games. Crucially, however, the exaggerated foresight we found regarding an incentivised game did not depend on whether participants had the opportunity to elicit cooperation from the group by convincing the others to choose it. The current findings suggest that foresight biases may be strategically (though not consciously) engaged when people have a stake in a goal, but not more so when given the opportunity to convince others to collaborate with them in its pursuit.
Keyword biased foresight
evolutionary strategy

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Created: Mon, 30 Mar 2015, 13:35:06 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology