Reciprocity in Ranked Relationships: Does Social Structure Influence Social Reasoning?
Many economic and evolutionary theories have modeled cooperation as the evolutionary outcome of decisions made by autonomous, self-interested agents operating in a social vacuum. In this paper we consider the implications for cooperative interactions when prior social structures and corresponding social norms exist. In particular we investigate the influence of social rank/status on perceptions of fairness and tolerance of cheating. We review evidence from a series of experiments employing the Wason selection task (a test of conditional reasoning) and the ledger task (a decision making task) suggesting that people cued to adopt a perspective of high social rank are more tolerant of cheating and simultaneously believe that they have been more fairly treated (even when cheated) than people cued to adopt a perspective of low social rank. However, the evidence also suggests interesting cross-cultural differences in perceptions of fairness and tolerance of cheating in ranked relationships. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001
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