Peter DeScioli

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Interest in and research on disgust has surged over the past few decades. The field, however, still lacks a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the evolved function or functions of disgust. Here we present such a framework, emphasizing 2 levels of analysis: that of evolved function and that of information processing. Although there is(More)
Punishment has been proposed as being central to two distinctively human phenomena: cooperation in groups and morality. Here we investigate moralistic punishment, a behavior designed to inflict costs on another individual in response to a perceived moral violation. There is currently no consensus on which evolutionary model best accounts for this phenomenon(More)
BACKGROUND Exploration of the cognitive systems underlying human friendship will be advanced by identifying the evolved functions these systems perform. Here we propose that human friendship is caused, in part, by cognitive mechanisms designed to assemble support groups for potential conflicts. We use game theory to identify computations about friends that(More)
We propose that moral condemnation functions to guide bystanders to choose the same side as other bystanders in disputes. Humans interact in dense social networks, and this poses a problem for bystanders when conflicts arise: which side, if any, to support. Choosing sides is a difficult strategic problem because the outcome of a conflict critically depends(More)
Evolutionary theories of morality, beginning with Darwin, have focused on explanations for altruism. More generally, these accounts have concentrated on conscience (self-regulatory mechanisms) to the neglect of condemnation (mechanisms for punishing others). As a result, few theoretical tools are available for understanding the rapidly accumulating data(More)
People are more willing to bring about morally objectionable outcomes by omission than by commission. Similarly, people condemn others less harshly when a moral offense occurs by omission rather than by commission, even when intentions are controlled. We propose that these two phenomena are related, and that the reduced moral condemnation of omissions(More)
Like many topics of psychological research, the explanation for friendship is at once intuitive and difficult to address empirically. These difficulties worsen when one seeks, as we do, to go beyond "obvious" explanations ("humans are social creatures") to ask deeper questions, such as "What is the evolved function of human friendship?" In recent years,(More)
Prominent evolutionary theories of morality maintain that the adaptations that underlie moral judgment and behavior function, at least in part, to deliver benefits (or prevent harm) to others. These explanations are based on the theories of kin selection and reciprocal altruism, and they predict that moral systems are designed to maximize Hamiltonian(More)
What function do facial expressions have? We tested the hypothesis that some expressions serve as honest signals of subjective commitments-in particular, that angry faces increase the effectiveness of threats. In an ultimatum game, proposers decided how much money to offer a responder while seeing a film clip depicting an angry or a neutral facial(More)