Does an altruist-detection cognitive mechanism function independently of a cheater-detection cognitive mechanism? Studies using Wason selection tasks

Ryo Oda, Kai Hiraishi, Akiko Matsumoto-Oda

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Subjects performed four deontic Wason selection tasks in three experiments to investigate possible commonalities in people's performance in making logical inferences in social contexts. These tasks tested sensitivity to another party being an altruist, cheater or willing to share a resource and following a precaution rule in the context of danger. The results indicated no significant association between performance on the altruist detection and the cheater detection tasks. This result suggests that whatever the nature of the altruist-detection algorithm, it functions independently of the cheater-detection algorithm. The results also indicated significant associations between the cheater-detection task and the resource-sharing task. Possible mechanisms and functions of social intelligence suggested by these results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-380
Number of pages15
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Sep 1
Externally publishedYes



  • Altruist detection
  • Cheater detection
  • Darwinian algorithm
  • Deontic reasoning
  • Wason selection task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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