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Feelings of obligation are valuations of signaling-mediated social payoffs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2020

Amanda Rotella
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada. arotella@uoguelph.cabarclayp@uoguelph.ca
Adam Maxwell Sparks
Department of Anthropology and Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, University of California, Los Angeles, CA90095-1553. adspar@fastmail.com
Pat Barclay
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada. arotella@uoguelph.cabarclayp@uoguelph.ca


We extend Tomasello's framework by addressing the functional challenge of obligation. If the long-run social consequences of a decision are sufficiently costly, obligation motivates the actor to forgo potential immediate benefits in favor of long-term social interests. Thus, obligation psychology balances the downstream socially-mediated payoffs from a decision. This perspective can predict when and why obligation will be experienced.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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