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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 10 supportive cast of other cognitive adaptations to take hold in humans. And, it would seem that humans have developed these as well. Corollary Adaptations Given the possibility of defection then, several corollary design features would have had to be selected for during humans’ EEA to support reciprocal altruism as a domain-specific cognitive adaptation. The following is not an exhaustive list, but should serve to call attention to the types of adaptations related to reciprocation that humans come equipped with. These, it will be argued later, underscore a great deal of human communication in organizations. First, humans would have needed to develop a sophisticated set of memory contingent monitoring systems for the tracking of self and other contributions in the exchange game. The inability to keep abreast of or to evaluate the quantity and quality of one party’s exchange contributions relative to those of the other party, would have exposed one to exploitation at worst, or have led one to fail to fully capitalize upon the benefit-to-cost structure of reciprocal exchange, at best (e.g., Trivers, 1971; Cosmides & Tooby, 1992). These systems would have permitted humans to attune future exchanges with an individual in terms of past relational history (e.g., Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981), based, in part, on an acquired ability to differentiate between individuals based on past history. The ability to group individuals based upon similar or compatible interests could really not have been too far behind (e.g., Krebs & Denton, 1997; Alexander, 1987). Again, savings in survival and reproductive costs over simple trial-and-error models are easy to extrapolate. Punitive sentiment has also been tied to the resource exchange cluster of adaptations (see also moralistic aggression in Trivers, 1971). Price, Cosmides and Tooby (2002) have argued that this component of the exchange cluster of adaptations was selected for to prevent defection strategies from developing higher inclusive fitness than cooperative designs. However, given that retaliation is in and of itself a risky (i.e., costly) proposition, liable to render its own defection on the part of the original cooperator, selection for collective action toward those who fail to retaliate against free riders is also called for. In a recent study, Price, Cosmides and Tooby (2002) found that this adaptation “can be evolutionarily stable as long as free riders [i.e., defectors] are punished, along with those who refuse to punish them” (p. 203). Other adaptive designs that have been connected with reciprocal altruism include deception, deception detection and self-deception. Deceit and manipulation, or the masking of one’s true intent in an exchange, could have evolved to increase the exchange payoff (i.e., reproductive benefits) for the deceiver, without incurring the costs traditionally associated with defection. Mechanisms designed to “anticipate the costs and benefits of cheating and to respond accordingly,” would also then have made up the computational circuitry associated with reciprocation (Krebs & Denton, 1997. p. 37). However,

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
10
supportive cast of other cognitive adaptations to take hold in humans. And, it would seem that humans
have developed these as well.
Corollary Adaptations
Given the possibility of defection then, several corollary design features would have had to be
selected for during humans’ EEA to support reciprocal altruism as a domain-specific cognitive adaptation.
The following is not an exhaustive list, but should serve to call attention to the types of adaptations
related to reciprocation that humans come equipped with. These, it will be argued later, underscore a great
deal of human communication in organizations.
First, humans would have needed to develop a sophisticated set of memory contingent monitoring
systems for the tracking of self and other contributions in the exchange game. The inability to keep
abreast of or to evaluate the quantity and quality of one party’s exchange contributions relative to those of
the other party, would have exposed one to exploitation at worst, or have led one to fail to fully capitalize
upon the benefit-to-cost structure of reciprocal exchange, at best (e.g., Trivers, 1971; Cosmides & Tooby,
1992). These systems would have permitted humans to attune future exchanges with an individual in
terms of past relational history (e.g., Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981), based, in part, on an acquired ability to
differentiate between individuals based on past history. The ability to group individuals based upon
similar or compatible interests could really not have been too far behind (e.g., Krebs & Denton, 1997;
Alexander, 1987). Again, savings in survival and reproductive costs over simple trial-and-error models
are easy to extrapolate.
Punitive sentiment has also been tied to the resource exchange cluster of adaptations (see also
moralistic aggression in Trivers, 1971). Price, Cosmides and Tooby (2002) have argued that this
component of the exchange cluster of adaptations was selected for to prevent defection strategies from
developing higher inclusive fitness than cooperative designs. However, given that retaliation is in and of
itself a risky (i.e., costly) proposition, liable to render its own defection on the part of the original
cooperator, selection for collective action toward those who fail to retaliate against free riders is also
called for. In a recent study, Price, Cosmides and Tooby (2002) found that this adaptation “can be
evolutionarily stable as long as free riders [i.e., defectors] are punished, along with those who refuse to
punish them” (p. 203).
Other adaptive designs that have been connected with reciprocal altruism include deception,
deception detection and self-deception. Deceit and manipulation, or the masking of one’s true intent in an
exchange, could have evolved to increase the exchange payoff (i.e., reproductive benefits) for the
deceiver, without incurring the costs traditionally associated with defection. Mechanisms designed to
“anticipate the costs and benefits of cheating and to respond accordingly,” would also then have made up
the computational circuitry associated with reciprocation (Krebs & Denton, 1997. p. 37). However,


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