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Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making$
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Peter Hammerstein and Jeffrey R. Stevens

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018081

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018081.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022

Early Social Cognition

Early Social Cognition

How Psychological Mechanisms Can Inform Models of Decision Making

(p.287) 17 Early Social Cognition
Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making

Felix Warneken

Alexandra G. Rosati

The MIT Press

Many approaches to understanding social decision making use formalized models that account for costs and benefits to predict how individuals should choose. While these types of models are appropriate for describing social behavior at the ultimate level—accounting for the fitness consequences of different patterns of behavior—they do not necessarily reflect the proximate mechanisms used by decision makers. It is argued that a focus on psychological mechanisms is essential for understanding the causes of decision making in a social context. Focus is on the behavior of human children to elucidate the psychological capacities that are foundational for the developmental emergence of social decision making in humans. Evidence is presented across a wide range of contexts to show that young children appear to focus on the underlying psychological states of potential social partners in cooperative contexts. This suggests that many types of social decisions may be driven by intention attribution, not explicit utility calculations. It is proposed that a comprehensive theory of social decision making must address both questions about ultimate function as well as integrate empirical studies of the psychological instantiation of these processes.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, decision making, social behavior, social cognition, early, human development

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