Adaptive Problem Altruism Friendships

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					Adaptive Problem: Altruism
         Lecture 13

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      Avenues to Altruism

• Kin Selection
  – Inclusive Fitness
• Reciprocal Altruism
  – The Prisoner’s Dilemma
• Friendships and Deep Engagements

    Make the natural seem strange
• Why do we even have friendships?
• Were there reasons why natural selection
  would have favored those individuals
  capable of forming strong relationships with
  others who weren’t kin?
• What kinds of selection pressures existed in
  our ancestral past that would have favored
  those who formed cooperative/altruistic
  relationships with non-kin, beyond RA?
    Make the natural seem strange
• Strange to talk about friendships in this way
• Talk in terms of:
  – investments,
  – benefit dispensing abilities,
  – positive affordances
  – opportunity costs
• Not conscious, not in terms of feelings &

   Limitations of Reciprocal Altruism

• The classical definition of reciprocal
  altruism is:
  – I deliver a benefit to you and incur some cost
    now, and later, you will deliver a benefit to me
    and likewise, incur some kind of cost.

Limitations of Reciprocal Altruism

• Two limitations:

    Inclusive Fitness & Reciprocal Altruism

• They don’t explain friendships very well
• Friendship isn’t just reciprocity.
• When someone insists that they pay us back,
  it is usually taken as a LACK of friendship
  – Shackelford and Buss (1996)
  – Find that RA in close relationships is linked with
    marital dissatisfaction (Hatfield & Rapson 1993)
     • Paying for a cab versus paying a friend for a ride

An explanation of friendship in short
 • Having people who would help you during
   times of need would have been important
   – But helping doesn’t grow on trees
 • People would want to help you if you
   provided them with some benefit that they
   couldn’t get elsewhere.
   – Your unique attributes
 • Mutual valuation would snowball into deep
   engagements  friendships

     Alternate avenue to altruism
      Let’s start from the beginning
• Imagine a world where individuals acted
  without regard to the consequences on
• What kinds of acts would be favored?

Three effects of behavior on others:
 But action DO have an effect on others:
   Actions can have a
   Actions can have an
   Actions can have

 Not surprisingly, you would want to
   _________ the actions of others that had a
    beneficial effect on you and to
   _________ actions that had a negative effect
    on you.                                    11
Reinforcing the good, punishing the bad

• How might this work?
• How would someone know if what they did
  was a benefit or a cost to you?
• It could work if after every time the person
  was nice, they were positively reinforced.
  – Cause them to engage in that behavior again.

Kermit and Piggy

  Actions that benefit Piggy

Actions that are neutral to Piggy

 Actions that are costly to Piggy

What kinds of abilities are required?
• Kermit: Going about his day acting in ways
 that benefit himself
  – But some of his action benefit others
    • Knowing his way back to camp
    • Spotting predators
  – To be influenced to continue acting in these
    beneficial ways needs to categorize actions in
    terms of the consequences for:
    • Himself
    • Others
What kinds of abilities are required?
• Piggy: The person being affected by
  Kermit’s actions:
    • Monitor the actions of other individuals
    • Determine the costs and benefits of
      particular actions
    • Positively reward individuals whose
      actions were beneficial to oneself.
    • Punish actions that were not beneficial.

  We are both Kermit and Piggy
• We not only need to monitor to see
  what others are doing that is potentially
  beneficial (and of course costly)
• Also need to be sensitive to “rewards”
  people are giving us to repeat particular
  behaviors that are beneficial to them.

            What is needed?
• Design features that caused an individual…
  – to monitor the actions of other individuals,
  – to categorize those actions as either beneficial,
    costly, or neutral to oneself, and
  – to provide those individuals whose actions were
    beneficial to oneself with a corresponding
• …would have allowed for the evolution of
  this type of altruism.
         Contingent favors
• Contingent means:
  – The occurrence of one event based on the
    completion or satisfaction of background
• Example:
  – You will reward me (give me food, help me
    when I am sick, introduce me to your friends,
    etc) when I have conferred a particular benefit
    upon you (killed a serpent close to your
    sleeping area).
         Contingent favors
• Once contingency can be detected,
  contingent reward can become the
  sole reason an action is taken.
  – Need systems for detecting contigencies
• Therefore, can have altruism develop
  based on alternating sequences of
  contingent favors.

You are driving to school & someone asks for a ride.
    Not incurring any costs
    So not defined as altruism in the classic sense.

Person being affected by       Person going about his day acting in
another person’s actions:      ways that benefit himself.
(benefiting from another’s     Also benefits others.
actions)                       He is person to be influenced to
                               continue conferring benefits to others.
  What kinds of actions would one
   consider beneficial and worth
• Ones that everyone possessed?
• Or ones that were rare and not provided
  by others?
• (where should you put your
• The Banker’s Paradox  illustrates

         The Banker’s Paradox
• Bankers have a limited amount of money.
  – Each choice is a gamble.
• So, who do they lend money to?

• The paradox:
  – Just when individuals need money most
Our hominid ancestors faced a similar problem

• When an ancestral hunter-gatherer is most in need
  of assistance, she becomes a bad credit risk.
  – She is a less attractive potential recipient of assistance.
• Individuals have limited amounts of time & energy:
  – expect NS to have shaped behavior to make choices
    about when to extend help (credit) and to whom.

• Helping one person precludes:

Who to invest in & how much to invest?
 • What factors might govern this

      Types of investments:
high cost and low cost investments
• High cost investments:
  – If the investment dies,
  – becomes permanently disabled, or
  – leaves the social group, then the investment
    will be lost.
• If the trouble someone is in might lead to
  one of these outcomes, then selection
  might favor those who abandoned
  individuals in certain types of need.
       Types of investments:
 high cost and low cost investments
• Compare this with lower cost investments:
  – An individual’s troubles are temporary
  – Easily returned to a position of full benefit-
    dispensing competence with a little bit of
• In this case, personal troubles should not
  make someone a less attractive object of

 Let’s consider our evolutionary past
• Times of serious need for a hunter-gatherer:

• Serious reversals of fortune with major
  selective impact.
  – The ability to attract assistance during these times
    may have had even stronger selective
    consequences than cultivating social exchange
    partnerships during times of safety
 Let’s consider our evolutionary past
• But, remember the Banker’s Paradox:
  – You would be a terrible investment!
  – Expect selection to have favored decision rules
    that caused others to abandon you exactly when
    you needed assistance the most!
• This predicament was a recurrent adaptive
  problem for our ancestors.
• What design feature (adaptation) would have
  been a good solution to this problem?

           The problem:
• How could you protect yourself against
  the ups and downs of life?
• In addition to family, what other
  insurance policies could you have

  Making yourself irreplaceable.
  Consider the following scenario:

Gabe provides Bell w/ greater     Mac provides Bell benefits
benefits than Mac but she could   she cannot get from anyone
get these benefits elsewhere      else in her environment.
Decision-making: who to help

• Which person would it have “paid” to help?
  – A person who is in a crisis and delivers benefits
    to you that can easily be supplied by others?
  – A person who is in a crisis and delivers benefits
    to you that you cannot easily get by others?

• A replaceable person would have been very
  prone to desertion.

• Selection should favor decision rules that cause X
  to exhibit loyalty to Y to the extent that Y is
  irreplaceably valuable to X.
• Mac may be helped, and Gabe abandoned even
  though the benefits Gabe delivers are greater.

        gabe                           mac       32
        Banker’s Paradox
• You are the worst credit risk when you
  are most in need.
• May not be able to “pay back” loan

• Who will come to your aid?
• People who find you irreplaceable.

• Your actions may unintentionally benefit
 –   You are reliable in a particular situation
 –   Good listener, Good problem solver
 –   Funny, You attract cute mates
 –   Good at translations, Good at taking notes
• Others may find your actions valuable.
 – They may reward you (be nice, give other
   benefits to you) when you behave in a way that
   they find valuable
 What kinds of behaviors should we
• If insuring yourself against times of
  need was an adaptive problem and
  making yourself irreplaceable was a
  solution to this problem, expect certain
  patterns of behavior.
• Evidence in social psychology that
  people try and make themselves
• Adaptive problem:
   – Having others to invest in you during times of need
   – But a terrible credit risk when in dire need
• Solution:
   – Make yourself irreplaceable, valuable
   – How? Next lecture
• All this is predicated on the fact that your actions
  can be beneficial, costly, or neutral to others.
   – The ones that are beneficial to others (valuable) are
     rewarded so you continue to do them.
   – Cultivates friendship

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