Moral Animal, Chapter 9

Hey everyone! I have decided to post my old university papers, the better ones of course, for your reading pleasure! Then I can also recycle and de clutter! Ha…

This first is for Psychology 385, Psychology of Evolution. While it was required to read Moral Animal in its entirety, I was permitted to focus on just one chapter. I randomly picked chapter 9, I hope you enjoy the following drivel!

Friendship is an important part of daily life, it is a key to survival. Without friends most people would become isolated, cut-off, or an eremite. Ambrose Bierce (1958) put it eloquently when he defined friendship as: “A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.” Indicating that it takes at least two people to create a friendship, otherwise, there is no coop-eration or reciprocal altruism. Cooperation is an essential centerpiece that connects people together and fosters friendship. Other important concepts that foster friendship are communication, diplomacy, and thinking skills, to name a few. Chapter nine of Robert Wright’s book Mora! Animal (1994) does not focus on friendship, per se, but on the cooperation of individuals and how it may lead to reciprocal altruism, and thus form the basis of friendship. This paper will focus on research pertaining to cooperation, namely Prisoner’s Dilemma and Tit For Tat. Of equal importance, the chapter will be connected to the Psychology 385 course and vice versa, plus a critique of the chapter will be supplied.

Part One: In chapter nine, the term reciprocal altruism is used to explain the basis of friendship. It is fundamental to analyze the two terms individually. Reciprocal, generally, means a mutual give and take. Anything can be reciprocated, there are no boundaries (Wright, 1994). The word altruism refers to the act of helping another person, the recipient, at the expense of the donor (Crawford & Janicki. 1997, Dawkins, 1989, Wright, 1994). Taken together; reciprocal altruism means the act of helping another individual, recipient, at the expense of the donor, with an expectation of help in return.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a game that pits two naive strangers against each other in a one-time fiery battle to achieve the best pay-off. How did these two players get into this dilemma in the first place? Both are found guilty of some infraction, and they are given the opportunity to either cooperate while remaining stoic or defecting blame about the other person (Crawford & Janicki, 1997, Dawkins, 1989, Wright, 1994). The two individuals are naive because they do not know which of the above two strategies the other person will use. The pay-off can be any positively valued stimulus. There are four possible pay-off outcomes:

Both players can cooperate and get a nice reward for mutual cooperation. Or, both players can defect and get a mild punishment for this defection. Third, one can defect while the other cooperates, this will give the defector a larger reward (Temptation) while the opponent gets a nasty punishment (Sucker). Finally, one person cooperates while the other defects. The former will receive the Sucker punishment, while the latter will receive the Temptation reward. (Wright, 1994, Dawkins, 1989, Crawford & Janicki, 1997).

The last two outcomes are mirror images (Dawkins, 1989). To summarize, the Temptation pay-off is greater than the reward, which is greater than the punishment, which in turn is greater than the sucker’s pay-off (Axelrod, 1984, Crawford & Janicki, 1997). This is an important rule to remember. For it demonstrates why a person would favor the temptation pay-off over the reward. In essence, it is the main point. Because, if the reward was bigger than theT emptation, cooperation would be chosen, and therefore, no dilemma would exist.

To illustrate the Prisoner’s Dilemma, imagine two individuals arguing over some infraction. An authoritarian figure intervenes, separates and gives them both a “kiss-and-make-up” speech. The speech would go something like this: “If you and Kelly both apologize (cooperate), both will get 45 minutes in the hot tub. But if you both do not apologize (defect), both of you will get only 20 minutes in the tub. However, you could get 90 minutes if you ignore -defect -him while he apologizes, he will concede his time and instead clean out the tub. But be warned, he could easily play the same trick on you, not apologizing while you apologize.” With this said, the perspective player would choose defect and remain stoic, and unapologetic. Why? Because the temptation pay-off is bigger than the reward pay-off, and both are bigger than punishment and sucker pay-off. If one apologizes, the maximum pay off is just 45 minutes, but if that person defects, the apologetic person must clean out the tub. Rewarding the former with 90 blissful, minutes, with 20 minutes if both remain stoic. This is far better than cleaning out the Jacuzzi, if the former apologized while the latter did not. In conclusion, it pays to defect, because the pay-offs are better.

How can the Prisoner’s Dilemma be used to explain friendship? We will examine this point after scrutinizing the Tit For Tat theory.

Anatol Rapaport’s Tit For Tat program debuted in Robert Axelrod’s computer-generated world in the l 970’s (Wright, 1994, Dawkins, 1989). The purpose of this world was to test the Prisoner’s Dilemma, thus, human strategies. Axelrod put together the computer environment. while fourteen researchers. including the Canadian Rapaport, submitted programs that utilized the rules of Prisoner’s Dilemma. The program that was most successful and accrued the most points was Tit For Tat. Why was did program succeed? Because Tit For Tat was nice, retaliating only after cheated, and then forgives (Crawford & Janicki, 1997, Wright, 1994, Dawkins, 1989). Tit For Tat’s strategy is to cooperate on first move and then do what the opponent does on their last move (Crawford & Janicki, 1997, Dawkins, 1989, Wright, 1994). This strategy survived all 200 interactions in the first contest, as well as many more in a second contest (Dawkins, 1989, Crawford & Janicki, 1997). Because of this winning streak, the Tit For Tat program was deemed an Evolutionary Strategy. This stability results from its cooperation motivation, or, simply, its niceness. Tit For Tat cooperates with programs that also cooperate in return, but avoids programs that defect (Dawkins, 1989, Wright, 1994 ). Thus, Tit For Tat will cooperate, as in the example above, and apologize every time, therefore getting 45 minutes of hot tub time, depending on the other person. This outcome is satisfactory.

How does the Prisoner’s Dilemma and Tit For Tat explain friendship?

Let us analyze this connection. Prisoner’s Dilemma and Tit for Tat explain friendship by implying that cooperation and a nice attitude will lead to friends, whereas, defection and a nasty attitude will win no friends. It also depends on the length of interaction. For a short, once-in-a-lifetime interaction, such as insurance claims, it pays to defect, being nasty and not building a relationship. If both defect, the punishment is minimum, a bent fender or a broken window. The main point here, is that the two drivers are of little importance to each other. They will probably never meet again, so fostering a relationship is futile. On the other hand, if two people, co-workers or relatives, become frustrated with each other for some reason or other, it pays to cooperate. These individuals should continue interacting, and thus cooperating. Because they must deal with each other daily, the interaction is more costly than cheating. The overall point here is that: Tit For Tat and Prisoner’s Dilemma explain that people who are more than mere acquaintances, such as lovers, newlyweds, siblings, co-workers, roommates, etc., become and remain friends based on the cooperation and niceness each one has for the other.

Part Two The Psychology 385 course … oh to hell with it! Do you read to this point? If you did, I should be paying you! Such drivel and snivel that my paper was! I tore it in half!

By the way, I received really good mark on this paper. I believe it was out of 15 marks, and I got 14. How about that!

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