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A CHEATER-DETECTION MODULE? DUBIOUS INTERPRETATIONS OF THE WASON SELECTION TASK AND LOGIC

Abstract : People usually fail the Wason selection task, choosing P and Q cases, when attempting to validate descriptive rules having the form “If P, then Q.” Yet they solve it, selecting P and not-Q cases, when validating deontic rules of the form “If P, then must Q.” The field of evolutionary psychology has overwhelmingly interpreted deontic versions of the selection task in terms of a naturally-selected, domain-specific social-contract or cheating algorithm. This work has done much to promote evolutionary psychology as an alternative to a mindblind sociobiology that ignores the computational structure of cognitive mechanisms in producing people's behaviors. Nevertheless, evolution-minded researchers outside cognitive psychology know little of the ample literature challenging this interpretation and uncritically cite the “cheater-detection module” as a key insight into human cognition. Although a priori arguments for a specially evolved cheater-detection module are plausible, the selection task provides no direct evidence for such a module.
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https://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_00000130
Contributor : Scott Atran <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, September 4, 2002 - 1:36:16 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 3:58:35 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 8:10:39 PM

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Scott Atran. A CHEATER-DETECTION MODULE? DUBIOUS INTERPRETATIONS OF THE WASON SELECTION TASK AND LOGIC. Evolution and Cognition, 2001, 7 (2), pp.187-192. ⟨ijn_00000130⟩

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