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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination: Implications for Organizational Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Evolution, Exchange and Coordination 11 duplicitous intent, and the over-representation of one’s position in an exchange, might have favored the development of cheater-detection mechanisms (Kiyonari, Tanida, & Yamagushi, 2000). In turn, these are only likely to have taken hold under conditions where the benefit of detection outweighed the cost. As Krebs and Denton (1997) remind us, “deception detectors […] vary in sensitivity in accordance with costs and benefits of detecting deception […]. When our interests conflict with those of others, we process information about them via cognitive channels designed for out-groups. […I]t doesn’t pay off to be as vigilant in detecting deception in those with whom we share interests. […] Inasmuch as others’ gains increase our own gains, then it is in our interest to support their illusions” (p.38-39). In other words, it would have been to our species’ advantage to develop mechanisms for self-illusion to preserve favorable exchanges of resources with others when convenient. And, self-deception (e.g., Krebs & Denton, 1997; Trivers, 1985) can also have developed as a mechanism to enhance one’s own ability to deceive others. The argument can easily be made that my true intent in an exchange is best hidden from an exchange partner, if it is hidden from myself. Finally, our penchant for reciprocity can also explain our tendency as a species to organize around status or prestige hierarchies (e.g., Patton, 2000; Pinker, 1997; Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). To begin with, because resource exchange may have evolved initially from incidental beneficial actions rather than direct or engaged ones, it is reasonable to assume that the benefits accrued to a party through such ‘positive externalities’ would also have favored these organisms’ attempts to initiate strategies designed to replicate the benefit, at a low cost to self, thus increasing the originator’s value in the exchange game (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). On the other hand, and with an already reciprocating species, several of the corollary mechanisms articulated here could have worked in tandem with reciprocal altruism to rank-order prospective partners on a risk-assessment basis. For instance, the ability to differentiate among exchange partners based on exchange history suggests rank- ordering activity. In turn, self-deception always favors those we stand to gain more from (e.g., Krebs & Denton, 1997). And so on. The Problem of Coordination So far, we have basically argued that human beings come hard-wired for reciprocation, and that throughout our evolutionary past, selection pressures endowed us with a sophisticated array of programs to facilitate reciprocation and the attainment of non-zero sum outcomes or products. However, the adaptations articulated here, stem from recurring resource exchange between two parties, where reciprocity is its own coordination mechanism. One of the main objectives of this next section is to suggest how intra-species coordination of exchange is accomplished in larger, more complex social

Authors: Teboul, JC. Bruno. and Cole, Tim.
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Evolution, Exchange and Coordination
11
duplicitous intent, and the over-representation of one’s position in an exchange, might have favored the
development of cheater-detection mechanisms (Kiyonari, Tanida, & Yamagushi, 2000). In turn, these are
only likely to have taken hold under conditions where the benefit of detection outweighed the cost. As
Krebs and Denton (1997) remind us, “deception detectors […] vary in sensitivity in accordance with costs
and benefits of detecting deception […]. When our interests conflict with those of others, we process
information about them via cognitive channels designed for out-groups. […I]t doesn’t pay off to be as
vigilant in detecting deception in those with whom we share interests. […] Inasmuch as others’ gains
increase our own gains, then it is in our interest to support their illusions” (p.38-39). In other words, it
would have been to our species’ advantage to develop mechanisms for self-illusion to preserve favorable
exchanges of resources with others when convenient. And, self-deception (e.g., Krebs & Denton, 1997;
Trivers, 1985) can also have developed as a mechanism to enhance one’s own ability to deceive others.
The argument can easily be made that my true intent in an exchange is best hidden from an exchange
partner, if it is hidden from myself.
Finally, our penchant for reciprocity can also explain our tendency as a species to organize
around status or prestige hierarchies (e.g., Patton, 2000; Pinker, 1997; Tooby & Cosmides, 1996). To
begin with, because resource exchange may have evolved initially from incidental beneficial actions
rather than direct or engaged ones, it is reasonable to assume that the benefits accrued to a party through
such ‘positive externalities’ would also have favored these organisms’ attempts to initiate strategies
designed to replicate the benefit, at a low cost to self, thus increasing the originator’s value in the
exchange game (Tooby & Cosmides, 1996; Henrich & Gil-White, 2001). On the other hand, and with an
already reciprocating species, several of the corollary mechanisms articulated here could have worked in
tandem with reciprocal altruism to rank-order prospective partners on a risk-assessment basis. For
instance, the ability to differentiate among exchange partners based on exchange history suggests rank-
ordering activity. In turn, self-deception always favors those we stand to gain more from (e.g., Krebs &
Denton, 1997).
And so on.
The Problem of Coordination
So far, we have basically argued that human beings come hard-wired for reciprocation, and that
throughout our evolutionary past, selection pressures endowed us with a sophisticated array of programs
to facilitate reciprocation and the attainment of non-zero sum outcomes or products. However, the
adaptations articulated here, stem from recurring resource exchange between two parties, where
reciprocity is its own coordination mechanism. One of the main objectives of this next section is to
suggest how intra-species coordination of exchange is accomplished in larger, more complex social


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