A popular assumption in evolutionary psychology claims that reciprocal altruism is supported by a cognitive module that helps individuals to detect and remember cheaters. Previous studies found a source memory advantage for faces of cheaters rather than faces of cooperators. The present study examines memory for social-exchange relevant information. More precisely, faces were shown together with behavior descriptions of cheating, trustworthy and neutral behavior either high or low in relevance for a student population. A multinomial model was used to measure old–new discrimination, source memory, and guessing biases separately. The study showed a source memory advantage for cheaters high in relevance. However, source memory for trustworthy persons low and high in relevance was also enhanced. The results are in line with the assumption of a flexible mechanism that focuses on exchange-relevant information. A system that is able to take into account the relative significance of information may be more beneficial than a system focusing on every cheater independently of his or her relative importance.
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 27, 2017
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