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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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Who Cares?

Who Cares?

Other-Regarding Concerns—Decisions with Feeling

(p.299) 18 Who Cares?
Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making

Keith Jensen

The MIT Press

The abilities to feel distress at the suffering of others and to share in their joy are indicative of positive other-regarding concerns. The value to social decision making is intuitive: helping others feels good, harming them feels bad. Less intuitive are negative other-regarding concerns, taking satisfaction in the misfortunes of others and feeling sad at their successes and joys. Yet these sentiments also play a role in the choices humans make when interacting with others. This chapter explores other-regarding concerns and how they influence social decisions. The nature of other-regarding concerns is discussed, with an emphasis on the role of emotions in guiding human other-regarding preferences. Possible origins of the emotional cornerstone of human sociality are suggested based on animal research, particularly nonhuman primates, and studies on children.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, decision making, empathy, competition, emotions, symhedonia, ultrasociality

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