Cross-cultural regularities in the cognitive architecture of pride

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Abstract

Pride occurs in every known culture, appears early in development, is reliably triggered by achievements and formidability, and causes a characteristic display that is recognized everywhere. Here, we evaluate the theory that pride evolved to guide decisions relevant to pursuing actions that enhance valuation and respect for a person in the minds of others. By hypothesis, pride is a neurocomputational program tailored by selection to orchestrate cognition and behavior in the service of: (i) motivating the costeffective pursuit of courses of action that would increase others' valuations and respect of the individual, (ii) motivating the advertisement of acts or characteristics whose recognition by others would lead them to enhance their evaluations of the individual, and (iii) mobilizing the individual to take advantage of the resulting enhanced social landscape. To modulate how much to invest in actions that might lead to enhanced evaluations by others, the pride system must forecast the magnitude of the evaluations the action would evoke in the audience and calibrate its activation proportionally. We tested this prediction in 16 countries across 4 continents (n = 2,085), for 25 acts and traits. As predicted, the pride intensity for a given act or trait closely tracks the valuations of audiences, local (mean r = +0.82) and foreign (mean r = +0.75). This relationship is specific to pride and does not generalize to other positive emotions that coactivate with pride but lack its audience-recalibrating function.

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Jiaqing, O., Sznycer, D., Al-Shawaf, L., Bereby-Meyer, Y., Curry, O. S., De Smet, D., … Tooby, J. (2017). Cross-cultural regularities in the cognitive architecture of pride. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(8), 1874–1879. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1614389114

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