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Sharing-rule and detection of free-riders in cooperative groups: Evolutionarily important deontic reasoning in the Wason Selection task

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Taking a Darwinian approach, we propose that people reason to detect free-riders on the Wason Selection task with the sharing-rule; If one receives the resource, one is an in-group member (standard), or If one is an in-group member, one receives the resource (switched). As predicted, taking the resource-provider's perspective, both undergraduates and children (11 to 12 years old) checked for the existence of out-group members taking undeserved resource. Changing the perspective to that of the resource-recipient did not alter the selection pattern in undergraduates, although the prediction was that another type of free-riding -failure to share by resource-provider- would be checked as well. However, by removing confounding factors in the materials, both undergraduates and children checked for both types of free-riding, which fully supports the prediction. These results indicate that the sharing-rule elicits a thematic content effect that cannot be explained by preceding deontic reasoning theories.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2001

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