Notes too late for "Learning Evolved"

One valuable part about having a blog, besides the invaluable community of critics & fans, is that it helps me write. For some reason posting notes (even notes that are universally ignored and rather vertical-domain-specific) in a semi-public place gives me more motivation to make sure that I am reading the articles and papers carefully. Likewise, using live search from any computer, I am able to quickly search through notes in any class. I wrote Learning Evolved this way, essentially compiling it together from notes I had already taken from this site.

This post’s notes are over a whole-bunch of way amazing articles, including one that I pointed Curtis to in reference to polyblogic 5GW discussion. Several of the articles are from UNL’s recent Hendricks Forum on genetics in the social sciences.

Perhaps the most interesting is from a Ph.D, a future J.D, and a Marine, Empathy and Collective Action in the Prisoner’s Dilemma:

John A. Sautter graduated cum laude from New York University, received his M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He currently attends Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT and is a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. (Sautter 2)

The Lt. Dr. should submit his work, which has obvious military implications, to the Small Wars Journal. Unless, of course, he is going after a bigger publisher.

Anyway, this post is over the following articles:

Benton, Stephen L., & Kiewra, Kenneth A. (1986). Measuring the Organizational Aspects of Writing Ability. Journal of Educational Measurement 23(4): 377-386.

Biggs, John (1999). Enriching Large-Class Teaching in Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Philadelphia, PA; Open University Press.

Craemer, Thomas. (2006). Evolutionary Model of Racial Attitude Formation Socially Shared and Idiosyncratic Racial Attitudes. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Huddy, Leonie, Feldman, Stanley, & Weber, Christopher. (2006). The Political Consequences of Perceived Threat and Felt Insecurity. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Igo, L. Brent, Kiewra, Kenneth A., Bruning, Roger. (2004). Removing the Snare from the Pair: Using Pictures to Learn Confusing Words. Journal of Experimental Education 72(3):165-178.

Johnson, Paul. E. (2006). Ecological Analysis of a System of Organized Interests. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

McCrudden, Matthew, Schraw, Gregory, Kendall, Hartley, & Kiewra, Kenneth A. (2004). The Influence of Presentation, Organization, and Example Context on Text Learning. Journal of Experimental Education 72(4):289-306.

Mutz, Diana C. (2006). Effects of “In-Your-Face” Television Discourse on Perceptions of a Legitimate Opposition. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Sautter, John A. (2006). Empathy and Collective Action in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Paper presented at the Hendricks Conference on Biology, Evolution, and Political Behavior.

Schraw, Gregory, & Bruning, Roger. (1996). Readers’ Implicit Models of Reading. Reading Research Quality 31(3):290-305.

Enjoy!


The challenge faced by measurement specialists is that of devising valid and reliable standardized measures of writing skills. An information-processing approach to the assessment of writing ability suggests a way of meeting this challenge. (Benton & Kiewra, 1986, 378)

Good writers outperformed poor writers on these tests in both high school and college samples, when reading comprehension, reading speed, general knowledge, verbal ability, and achievement were controlled (Benton et al.). Such findings support models of writing that acknowledge the role of complex organizational skills in writing (Collins & Gentner, 1980; Hayes & Flower, 1980), and speak to the relevance of the information-processing approach to writing assessment. (Benton & Kiewra, 1986, 378)

Lectures are as effective as other methods for teaching information, but not more effective. Forty studies suggested that unsupervised reading is better than lecturing… Lectures are quite ineffective for stimulating higher order thinking…Lectures cannot be relied on to inspire, or to change students’ attitudes favorably… Students like really good lectures, but as a rule prefer well conducted group work (Biggs 1999 98)

Sustained and unchanging low-level activity lowers concentration. Sitting listening to a lecture is such an activity. Yet it requires concentrated effort to follow lecture content. (Biggs 1999 99)

The attention span of students under these [lecture] conditions can be sustained for about 10 to 15 minutes, after which learning drops off rapidly… A short rest period, or simply a change in activity, after about 15 minutes leads to a restoration of performance almost to the original level… A brief period of consolidation after prolonged learning greatly enhances retention. Getting students to review at the end of the lecture what has been learned leads to much better and more lasting retention than simply finishing and dismissing the students.” (Biggs 1999 100)

But the basic point remains: do not talk longer than 15 or 20 minutes without a pause, unless you are certain you still have their attention. When you do pause, get the students to change their activity. (Biggs 1999 100-101)

Think of the large-class situation as a plenary session rather than as a ‘lecture.’ This carries the strong suggestion that there are other ways of using the time than listening to the chair endlessly talking. (Biggs 1999 102)

Large classes need much more meticulous preparation than small classes. The larger the class, the slower things get done. A spur of the moment change of direction, perhaps in response to a student question, highly desirable and manageable within a group of 30, becomes perilous with 200. (Biggs 1999 103)

You should make the purposes of each session clearly explicit well in advance. (Biggs 1999 103)

Notes, handouts, overhead transparencies etc need to be organized before class, ready to be used. (Biggs 1999 103)

David and McLeod suggest playing lively music to accompany discussion; when it stops, it’s back to the lecturer. (Biggs 1999 104)

The structure of the lecture is ideally a reflection of the structure of the topics or content being taught. Brown and Atkins (1988) refer to several lecture structures:
Classical, where the lecture addresses several broad areas…
Problem-centered: a problem is presented and alternative solutions are suggested…
Comparative: two or more theories, views, perspectives, etc. are offered and compared. Students need to know the different theories or positions first.
Thesis: a position is taken and then supported with evidence, argument, hypothesis.
Whatever the structure, explain it specifically on an overhead or handout. (Biggs 1999 105)

Stand in front of the lectern, not behind it, which also means don’t read from your notes. Walk about, up and down the aisles if feasible. Get students to leave a few rows empty, so you can move along them. Such plyos give the impression of accessibility, not distance. Stand still, however, when delivering important points. (Biggs 1999 106)

Partners could be matched by the teacher: alphabetically, or on the basis of the way students complement each other… Alternatively, studnets could choose their own partners, and that probably is the best way. (Biggs 1999 110)

There is no best method of teaching, ‘but the second best is students teaching other students’ (McKeachie et al 1986:63).(Biggs 1999 110)

The most prolific resource in large classes is the students themselves, and using them appropriately engages a different set of verbs that address a range of objectives scarcely touched by teacher-directed TLAs (Biggs 1999 117)

This paper proposes a simple neural model of racial attitude formation that makes an important distinction between socially shared and idiosyncratic racial attitudes. Socially shared attitudes reflect evaluations that are culturally transmitted and may not necessarily represent an individual’s personal views. In contrast, idiosyncratic attitudes represent a sense of interpersonal ‘chemistry’ that may be at odds with dominant social norms. (Craemer, 2006, 2)

The main difference is that implicit attitudes tend to reflect attitudes that have been rehearsed for a longer period of time and have become automatic. Such automatic responses require no conscious thought while newer attitudes require conscious effort. According (Craemer, 2006, 3)

The model further assumes that both types of sensory perception, internal as well as external, are subjected to a process of Hebbian learning (Donald O. Hebb 1949), whereby repeated rehearsal leads to automaticity. This process is equivalent to the rehearsal process described in Wilson’s et al. (2000) dual attitude model and its neural basis will be described in greater detail in section 2.2. Finally, on the inter-personal level, the model of racial norms evolution is inspired by Motoo Kimura’s (1983) theory of neutral evolution. (Craemer, 2006, 4-5)

Idiosyncratic perceptions of internal body states can be expressed in a communicable format with probability p(idiosyncratic). This probability depends on the level of difficulty translating internal body sensations into a communicable format2. It may be easier, for example, to express the internal body state of ‘feeling hungry’ than the complex sensation of feeling a ‘sense of chemistry’ with a complete stranger. (Craemer, 2006, 5-6)

The principle of Hebbian learning suggests that both types of racial attitudes discussed in section 2.1 – idiosyncratic as well as socially shared – should become automatic after frequent activation (rehearsal). Thus, both types of racial attitudes should be detectable on the unconscious (implicit) level outside of an individual’s conscious control. This leads to a two-by-two classification scheme of racial attitudes distinguishing (1) implicit idiosyncratic attitudes, (2) implicit socially shared attitudes, (3) explicit idiosyncratic attitudes, and (4) explicit socially shared attitudes. (Craemer, 2006, 7-8)

Nonetheless, a process invariably occurs by which one out of any number of equal alternatives eventually emerges as a socially dominant majority attitude. This process, referred to in biological theory as ‘random drift,’ has been mathematically analyzed by Motoo Kimura (1983) in his theory of neutral evolution. (Craemer, 2006, 8-9)

Since this evolutionary model is new to the social sciences, a brief description of its biological origin is in place. It was developed by Kimura (1983) to explain evolutionary phenomena that cannot be explained by the Darwinian principle of natural selection. It became necessary when molecular genetics in the late 1960s, to their own surprise, encountered unequal distributions of selectively neutral synonymous alleles. Synonymous alleles are different DNA-sequences, that code for the same protein. Since an organism’s selective advantage relies on the proteins it is composed of, these synonymous DNA-sequences are indistinguishable from one another by natural selection. This puzzle was solved by the strange dynamic of the Neutral Theory of Evolution that demonstrates how a purely random process will inevitably lead to distinct patterns in which one neutral alternative will dominate and eventually replace other equal alternatives. (Craemer, 2006, 9)

Interestingly, the use of random evolution models in political science precedes Kimura’s neutral theory. In 1968 William N. McPhee (1968) proposed a “Campaign Simulator” (p. 169) based on similar ideas and his colleagues Jack Ferguson and Robert B. Smith applied a related model to voting behavior. (Craemer, 2006, 9)

Interestingly, on a personal level Thurmond appears to have acknowledged his African American daughter at the same time he publicly uninvited Virgin Island Governor Hastie with the following racist statement: “Governor Hastie knows that neither he nor any other Negro will ever be a guest at the Governor’s house in Columbia so long as I am Governor” (Thurmond on Oct. 25, 1948 cited in Stroud 2003, emphasis added TC). At the same time he secretly received his African American daughter Essie Mae Washington at the Governor’s Mansion (Stroud 2003). (Craemer, 2006, 11)

That his first acknowledged fatherhood had been in violation of the very anti-miscegenation laws that Thurmond had so desperately fought to maintain flies in the face of any attempt to explain political behavior rationally. (Craemer, 2006, 11)

The fact that implicit idiosyncratic feelings of closeness towards African Americans appear to be large and significant predictors of racial policy liberalism supports the construct validity of this implicit idiosyncratic measure. The fact, however, that racial priming measures appear to be unrelated to racial policy liberalism at first blush casts doubt on their validity as a measures of implicit socially shared racial attitudes. (Craemer, 2006, 23)

A number of studies suggest that non-White participants, especially African Americans, display as much pro-White and anti-Black bias in their implicit word associations as their White American counterparts. (Craemer, 2006, 24)

White and Asian American participants express significantly more pro-White than pro-Black attitudes, while African Americans express overwhelmingly pro-Black attitudes (all deviations from the neutral zero-point are significant at p<.01). (Craemer, 2006, 25-26) In his Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25th, 1965 Martin Luther King counter-intentionally invoked ingrained linguistic and racial associations while explicitly criticizing such stereotypes: “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” (King in Carson & Shepard 2001, p. 130, emphasis added TC). The explicit attitudes expressed give voice to the views of the Civil Rights Movement, while the figures of speech invoked implicitly represent ingrained elements of the overall linguistic culture. (Craemer, 2006, 26) The tendency for computational models of social communication processes to produce unanimity as a function of random rather than systematic processes has been noted with puzzlement by some social scientists. Andrzej Nowak et al. (1990), for example, criticize: “the implicit null hypothesis seemingly held by most social psychologists is that group processes, if allowed to work themselves through to their conclusion, would lead to a final distribution of opinion … with zero variance” (Nowak et al. 1990, p. 363). (Craemer, 2006, 34-35) Research on threats that involve the potential for physical harm such as crime, natural disasters, and violent conflicts provide clear evidence that personal threat increases one’s sense of vulnerability and motivates action designed to minimize personal risk (Browne and Hoyt 2000; Ferraro 1996; Sattler et al 2000; Smith and Uchida 1988). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 1) Studies conducted to date find a clear relationship between national threat and support for national and domestic security policies (Davis and Silver 2004; Huddy et al 2005). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 1-2) Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943) placed security just above the satisfaction of basic physiological needs in his hierarchy of human needs (and below love and self-actualization). And political scientist Ronald Inglehart (1997), building on Maslow’s work, viewed the fulfillment of basic economic and security needs as a necessary societal precondition to the pursuit of postmaterialist values which emphasize freedom, self-expression and quality of life. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 2) Bowlby’s attachment theory (1982/69) is an evolutionary-developmental account of social behavior that posits a need for social proximity to protective others under conditions of threat and danger, implicitly assuming a need to maintain a sense of security under threat. Building on Bowlby’s original insights (1969) on the universality of a human need for attachment as way to deal with insecurity, scholars have theorized about the evolutionary advantage of adult attachment under conditions of threat (Ainsworth, Blehar, Water, and Well, 1978; Mikulincer and Shaver, 2003; Fraley, Brumbaugh, and Marks, 2005; Kirkpatrick, 1998; Tancredy and Fraley, 2006). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 2-3) As noted by Sroufe and Waters (1977), the goal of attachment behaviors is to reduce anxiety through an established sense of “felt security”. The attachment system emerges in early infancy, particularly in the context of the caregiver-child relationship, and operates as a functional system organizing interpersonal beliefs throughout development (Bowlby, 1969). While the attachment system is universal, operating in all humans and a host of other organisms (e.g., Fraley et al., 2005), individual differences often emerge from variations in attachment histories. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 3) Once established, attachment styles are relatively constant across the lifespan, suggesting that they serve as a stable individual difference (Fraley, 2002; Ainsworth, 1991) that may be mediated by distinct neural and hormonal reactions to threat. For instance, Kraemer (1992) found that physiological indicators of stress such as norepinephrine varied depending on whether rhesus monkeys were reared in isolation versus with mothers or peers. And humans with an enduring sense of insecurity release higher levels of glucocorticoids in stressful situations than those with a secure attachment (Goldberg, 2000). (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 4) Mikulincer and colleagues (Mikulincer, Florian and Weller 1993) examined the effects of the Gulf War, and Iraqi Scud missile attacks, on Israelis with different attachment styles and found that securely attached individuals perceived lower levels of threat, reported higher levels of self-efficacy, actively sought out social support, and pursued constructive problem solving strategies. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 4) According to attachment theory, one of the key correlates of a secure attachment is a general willingness to trust other people. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 13) Overall, it appears that insecure individuals respond to the threat of terrorism with enhanced ingroup attachment as reflected in higher levels of reported patriotism. But outgroup derogation is driven simply by threat. (Huddy, Feldman, & Weber, 2006, 15)
People frequently misuse word pairs such as fewer and less and that and which. But why is this so? Perhaps it is because the concepts they represent do not have a visual referent. That is, it can be difficult for one to create a mental image of what is meant by the word which. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

Pictures, it seems, can be especially important to word learning. In fact, extensive research indcates that pictures are powerful learning tools that can aid in (a) the resilient recall of discrete information over time… (b) the performacne of procedural tasks, such as first aid… (c) the effectiveness of psychology lectures… (d) the learning of cause and effect relationships regarding lightning formation… and (e) memory for prose (Levin & Lesgold, 1978). Critical to this study, however, is that pictures can make word learning easier and vocabulary instruction better… This is especially true for words that represent concrete concepts. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

Two prominent theories regarding how people process pictures and words are dual coding theory (Paivio, 1991) and Baddeley’s (1999) theory of working memory. Each theory explains the integration of words and pictures differently (Mayer, 2001). The dual coding model postultaes the existence of separate verbal and nonverbal memory channels that combine separate memories to make singular mental models. The Baddeley model describes the existence of working memory subsystems for the simultaneous processing of separate verbal and nonverbal information. (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004)

The hallmark of a complex system is that there are many small parts that interact with each other only in loosely coupled ways, sometimes producing surprising and unexpected results (Casti, 1997;DeAngelis and Gross, 1992;Epstein and Axtell, 1996;Kauffman, 1993). (Johnson 2)

A sincere organization will simply offer citizens a policy package that reflects its “true” organizational policy, while a more sophisticated organization may offer citizens a policy package that differs from the truth. (Johnson 12)

Consider a“democratically governed group”(Paul E. Johnson, 1990). The members of the organization exercise self-determination. The current members are asked to create the organization’s policy, and the new group policy is used in the advertising effort to attract new members. The multi-dimensional median is offered as a representation of the outcome of an internal decision-making process. Policy change is expected to occur frequently as people are drawn in and out of the organization. Such organizations might gain members as their policy changes, but they also risk alienating existing members who find the organization’s policy moving away from them. (Johnson 21)

Recall that the ideal points of the citizens are a multivariate normal “hillside.” As discussed elsewhere (Paul E. Johnson, 1996), policy in democratically governed groups is expected to drift, as new positions are adopted that alienate some existing members but draw in new members. Since group members are, more or less, a random sample of people who would find a given position to be tolerable, then we expect that organizations that are positioned on the edges of the policy space will their policy positions drawn toward the center. In other words, although the members of these organizations do not consciously intend to do so, they tend to be hill climbers. (Johnson 21)

Learning from text can be difficult because of a reader’s limited processing capacity (Turner & Engle, 1989). Cognitive load theory suggests that some texts and learning environments impose greater information processing demands on working memory than others (Chandler & Sweller, 1999; Sweller, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998). Cognitive load may vary because of intrinsic or extraneous demands. Intrinsic-load demands stem from the properties of the tobo-learned information (Sweller, 1994) (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Overall, research reveals that reducing extraneous cognitive load in one design characteristic improves learning (Mayer, 9 1999; Mayer & Moreno, 2002, 2003). (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Research has shown that different text presentation formats differently affect extraneous cognitive load. For example, Mayer and Chandler (2001) examined the amount of viewer control on the pace of presentation (e.g., computer-controlled pace or self-paced). The computer-controlled pace imposed a higher load than the self-paced presentation because readers were forced to process information without stopping or looking back to previous information. As predicted, readers in the self paced format outperformed those in the computer-paced format. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

According to cognitive load theory, the effects of each extraneous variablemake a contribution to total cognitive load. When total cognitive load is withinw orking memory limitations, extraneous load exerts minimal influence on learning. When total cognitive load exceeds working memory limitations, learning suffers. The laod imposed by extraneous variables is addititive (Sweller et al., 1988). Reducing extraneous cognitive load reduces overall cognitive load, which may prevent working memory from being overloaded. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

The first question was whether extraneous variables affect learning. Text presentation had a clear impact on fact and concept learning. Reading text that is presented sentence-by-sentence, as compared with a whole-text presentation, resulted in less fact and concept learning. In other words, performance was better when the reader could refer to the text presented as a whole. This replicated the work of Dillon (2991), who found that requiring mental integration of offscreen information (which has been viewed previously) with current on-screen informaiton decreased learning compared with whole-text presentations. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

The second question was whether readers perceive differences in ease of comprehension among the three extraneous variables. Results show that readers perceived greater ease of comprehension for low-load versions of text presentation and text organization. This is concistent with previous research in cognitive load (Sweller, 1999) and text processing (McKoon & Ratcliff, 1990; van den Broek et al., 1995; van Oostendorp, 1994) in which learners reported differences in perceived cognitive load resulting from the manipulation of extraneous load variables. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

Collectively, these findings are consistent with the cognitive resource sharing model described by Miyake (2001), which states that limited cognitive resources in working memory can be allocated flexibly between storage and processing activities. (McCrudden, Schraw, Hartley, & Kiewra, 2004)

For example, at least since the Eisenhower administration, the gap between Republican and Democratic citizens’ approval of the president has never been as wide as it has become under George W. Bush (Jacobson 2007). (Mutz 3)

If citizens remain unaware of any legitimate opposition, then political conflict itself seems petty and unnecessary (see Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002). Moreover, if the losing side in any given controversy perceives no legitimate basis for the positions of the winning side, then the losers are unlikely to cooperate in maintaining and perpetuating the rules of the game (see Anderson et al. 2005). (Mutz 4)

Watching others discuss opposing perspectives on television is qualitatively different from participation in face-to-face discussion, and the evidence on face-to-face deliberation is mixed in what it suggests about its outcomes (see Mendelberg 2002). (Mutz 5)

Granting legitimacy to those with whom one has significant differences of opinion is a complex and cognitively difficult task. To comprehend the logic and motivation behind views that are not one’s own is an effortful, multi-step process (see Gilbert 1991). (Mutz 6)

Indeed, those involved in the production of political television routinely argue that lively and passionate debate is a necessary ingredient for a successful television program involving political topics. Anything less is probably too boring to attract the attention of television audiences (see, e.g., Christianson 1986, Bradley et al. 1992, Christianson et al. 1986). (Mutz 7)

In one study, Storms and Thomas (1977) showed subjects a mock survey supposedly filled out by a person the subject was about to meet. The surveys were rigged to convince each subject that the confederate’s attitudes were either very similar to or highly dissimilar from his or her own, based on random assignment… When the confederate sat abnormally close to the subject, violating the norms for personal space, close physical distance interacted with attitude similarity to intensify attitudes toward the confederate (see also Schiffenbauer & Schiavo 1976; Middlemist, Knowles & Matter 1976). (Mutz 8)

This pattern of reactions to interpersonal distance has been well documented in the realm of face-to-face interaction. Dissimilarity breeds dislike, and closeness generally intensifies whatever kind of reaction – positive or negative – a person has to another person or object. (Mutz 8)

Likewise, Reeves and Nass (1996) find that viewers’ levels of attention and recall respond to mediated simulations of interpersonal distance (manipulated through the use of close-ups versus long shots, and through the size and distance of the image from the viewer) in much the same way that they do to interpersonal distance in face-to-face contexts. (Mutz 9)

The sense of threat experienced by television viewers is not likely to be a cognitive acknowledgment of some real threat; after all, few people would claim they feel imminent danger from a politician on a television screen. Instead, it is a subconscious feeling of threat based on the perception of being physically very close to someone who is disagreeable, and who thus presents an unwelcome invasion of personal space (Persson 1998). (Mutz 10)

On one hand, some level of arousal is absolutely necessary in order to produce attention to the content of political discourse. The arousal produced by “in your face” political discourse should heighten levels of physiological arousal, and thus enhance attention to content and promote greater awareness of oppositional perspectives. Viewers cannot be expected to learn anything about oppositional perspectives unless they are paying attention. (Mutz 10)

Recall of arguments was enhanced by the same factors that enhance arousal: incivility and a close-up camera perspective. For awareness of oppositional issue arguments, the interaction of incivility and close-up camera perspective was significant (F=4.36, p<.05). For awareness of arguments on one’s own side, only incivility significantly enhanced recall (F=5.13, p<.05), though the pattern is very similar to the left-hand side of Figure 2. The uncivil, close-up conditions consistently stand out in producing higher levels of recall. (Mutz 20) Levels of civility mattered a great deal to perceptions of the legitimacy of opposition views when subjects viewed the uncivil exchange in one of the close-up conditions. (Mutz 22) In contrast to this rational-essentialist view it has been shown that individuals do “irrationally” cooperate in both a Prisoner’s Dilemma game and in real life scenarios that are parallel to it (Axelrod, 1984; Ridley, 1996; Field, 2004). (Sautter 2) Evolution has cultivated a multitude of personality traits that vary amongst humans. This phenotypic variation allows for selective advantages on the group level (Wilson, 2002). (Sautter 4) Studies of autism, violent behavior and other asocial disorders indicate that genetic inheritance, as well as environmental conditioning, is an important determinant of patterns of behavior (Ebstein, Benjamin, and Belmaker, 2003; Pericak-Vance, 2003). (Sautter 5) Empathy can be defined and interpreted under the auspices of three main sub-characteristics: concern for others, perspective taking (also called theory of mind empathy) and personal distress, or the ability to have emotional reactions to others in need. A study of 800 twin-pairs that compared monozygotic to dizygotic dyads estimated the combined inheritance of these three components of empathy to be estimated at 32% (Davis et al., 1994). (Sautter 5) Indeed, this sort of emotional capacity has been important to researchers looking at what motivates moral and pro-social actions, finding that higher levels of empathy tend to make individuals more likely to be morally outraged or to take action to prevent unjust acts (Davis, 1996; Smith-Lovin, 1995). (Sautter 5) There are three main evolutionary arguments for the development of empathy. First, is the well known theory of kin selection (Hamilton, 1964)… The second evolutionary theory focuses more on the interaction with those who are not genetically related. Reciprocal altruism hypothesizes that the empathetic bonds that develop in friendships or working relationships evolved out of an iterated sequence of encounters where conspecifics mutually benefited from cooperation (Axelrod, 1984)… Finally, the group-selection model of human evolution posits that inter-group conflict promoted the adoption of empathetic characteristics because natural selection would have rewarded those groups that worked together well over groups that would not have contained the frequency of individuals with cooperative dispositions (Sober and Wilson, 1998). (Sautter 6) The Prisoner’s Dilemma has been invoked time and again in explanation of the evolutionary origins of human behavior. It represents in a simplified manner the continual problem of reciprocity, trust and collective action (Rapoport and Chammah, 1965; Axelrod, 1984; Ridley, 1996; Fehr and Schmidt, 1999) that is ever-present in iterated interactions between human beings. This makes the Prisoner’s Dilemma framework ideal for a test of pro-social emotional disposition in an incentive based game because it is simple enough for those first exposed to it in an experimental setting to comprehend, yet theoretically sophisticated so as to allow a rich interpretation of the results.2 (Sautter 7) In contrast to Olson’s more traditional economic view of collective action, Hardin (1982) frames the free-rider problem as really an N-person Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) game. (Sautter 7) Much in line with the way that evolutionary theorists suggest that reciprocal behavioral situations may have evolved in humans some theorists, including Palfrey and Rosenthal (1983) as well as Axlerod (1984), suggest that if certain conditions are met cooperative behavior is a predictable outcome of the PD. First, individuals need to have a low rate of time-preference, or in other words they should not discount the future too much. The second condition is that the game theoretic scenario needs to be repeated several times. This mitigates the standard oneshot strategy of defection. Similarly, the third condition requires there to be uncertainty among the players about when the game will end. Under rational choice assumptions players will always defect in the final round if information is available on when the game will end. The final condition involves punishment. If each player is capable of punishing other players that defect over the course of the game then an incentive structure is created that discourages defection. Theoretically, these conditions work best when there is no central authority and agents are left to their own to decide whether to defect or cooperate. (Sautter 8) Andreoni and Miller (1993) find that altruists even exist in the finitely repeated PD, where individuals are aware of when the game will end… By separating the two groups Andreoni and Miller are able to show that reputation is not as important to altruistic behavior as it might be thought. Indeed, their findings suggest that people probably have what they refer to as “homemade” altruistic preferences, or in other words, people tend to have individual dispositions making them more likely to cooperate. (Sautter 8-9) Fehr and Schmidt (1999) look at the PD in an entirely different way. Somewhat similar in manner to Hibbing and Alford’s (2002) notion of people as wary cooperators, they see individuals as being inequality averse. People in this conception of the PD have an evolved inclination toward seeing equal distribution of payoffs. Framing becomes the key in this case. If players are more optimistic about the other player’s probability of cooperating then inequality-averse players will cooperate more often than the standard theoretical completely rational agent. They present this idea as a social utility function, where each player calculates their payoff in regard to how that payoff relates to the other player’s payoff, thus making inequality-averse players conditional cooperators. (Sautter 9) This notion of egalitarianism coincides with the way that evolutionary psychology theorizes that individuals have innate preferences for fairness. Absolute outcomes are not as important as relative outcomes. The process of how the game is played in relation to the other player becomes the most important aspect. Both evolutionary theories of multilevel selection and reciprocal altruism reflect this focus on relative outcomes. In the case of collective action, individuals should be disposed toward equal and fair outcomes that reflect an innate desire to achieve what is implicitly best for the group, not for the individual (Fehr and Gachter, 2000). (Sautter 10) Evolutionary pressure equipped humans with emotions in order to guide their decision making in the group context (Bowles and Gintis, 2003). From this perspective it is not rationality per se that a researcher should be investigating, but the emotions that lead to intra-group rationality that are designed to deal with conflict and compromise. (Sautter 10) At the base of this emotional temperament is a pro-social empathetic disposition that varies from individual to individual. As Sober and Wilson (1998) imply throughout their polemic, empathy is the veritable context with in which all choices are made.4 Indeed, McCabe et al. (2001) found that different parts of the brain are used when a player is competing against a computer versus another human. When playing against another human a large part of the pre-frontal cortex becomes activated, while in contrast when playing a computer only a small area in the rear of the brain that is used in mental calculation, like arithmetic, becomes activated. (Sautter 11) Hypothesis I: A more robust empathetic psychological disposition will lead to higher rates of “punishment” or mutual defection in the face of an initial defection by another player. (Sautter 11) Hypothesis II: Empathy will predict more forgiving behavior in a player during a period when the opposing player attempts to re-establish mutual cooperation. (Sautter 11) Students made their decisions simultaneously with their opponent. They were given the impression that they were playing another person when in reality they were playing a computer programmed to either cooperate or defect. (Sautter 12) However, the hypothesis for this experiment is that those with a higher level of empathy will defect at a higher rate than those with lower levels because of their group-oriented leanings. (Sautter 14) The third stage in the experiment is the most interesting part. According to Hibbing and Alford’s (2002) theory of humans as wary cooperators that want to be neither leeches (take advantage of others) nor suckers (to be taken advantage of), when the computer begins cooperating individuals should feel as though they are being leeches on a cooperative person. (Sautter 14) Independent variables used in regression analysis included age, gender, income, population of hometown, race and grade point average. It was felt necessary to control for these differences in socioeconomic status in order to isolate the effects of empathy. As Schieman and Van Gundy (2000) show, empathy is a context specific phenomenon that is particular to one’s socioeconomic status.6 By documenting the relationship between education, age, income and gender over an entire community, they are able to demonstrate that empathy levels are relative to one’s social position. For instance, Shieman and Van Gundy present evidence that empathy tends to decrease with age, but that increases in higher education, income and by being female can mitigate this general trend. If these factors were not taken into account it would lead to a misguided analysis of the role that a particular individual’s relative level of empathy plays in their decisionmaking process. (Sautter 15-16) The experimental results are presented below in a statistical appendix. Two types of regression analysis were used in examining the data. The first consisted of a standard ordinary least squares regression. The second type used was a tobit regression model. Tobit (0,X) estimation models were used because of the truncated nature of each of the dependent variables. This statistical methodology can control for the two different types of theoretical participants in the experiment: those that defect all of the time (or, 0 cooperation) and those that cooperate to varying degrees (or, X cooperation). (Sautter 17) In the ordinary least squares (OLS) regression the first thing one should notice is that the F – statistic, or model fit test, is not significant, meaning that little to none of the variance present in the dependent variable is being explained by the independent predictors. What variance is explained is being predicted by the round one variable, which is significant at p < .01 level. (Sautter 18) Not surprisingly, the round one predictor is a very strong indication that participants would cooperate during the entire experiment. However, in these regressions no other independent predictors, including empathy, were significant. (Sautter 19) The first hypothesis presented was that empathy would be a significant predictor of participants’ defection in the second stage of the experiment. In both the OLS and tobit estimations a participant’s empathetic disposition was a significant predictor of defection in retaliation to the opposing player’s second stage defections. For these two analyses, the null hypothesis can be rejected. Empathy was a factor. (Sautter 20-21) The second hypothesis that an empathetic disposition would lead to higher rates of re-cooperation in the final stage of the experiment was flat out wrong… Truly, empathy was not a facilitator of restoring cooperation after reciprocal trust had been broken. (Sautter 21) This indicates that there is a possible “J-curve” to empathy, or that high levels of empathy can produce either more defection or more cooperation depending on the individual, but that participants with a median level of empathy will converge toward cooperating about 50 percent of the time.9 (Sautter 22) This indicates that there is a possible “J-curve” to empathy, or that high levels of empathy can produce either more defection or more cooperation depending on the individual, but that participants with a median level of empathy will converge toward cooperating about 50 percent of the time.9 (Sautter 24) Finally, an analysis of the possible differences between individuals with high levels of empathy residing in the more cooperative empathy peak and the less cooperative empathy peak was conducted. All possible variables that were gathered from the survey after the experiment were investigated. The size of a participant’s home town and the level of their family income were found to be statistically significant predictors. Figures 7 and 8 show the results of the difference of means test for each variable. Essentially, those individuals with high levels of empathy present in the “more cooperative peak” tended to have been raised in smaller towns and come from families with a relatively lower level of income. (Sautter 24-25) The results of this experiment suggest social conditioning could be very important to the manner in which an empathetic disposition manifests itself in social decision making. Being from a larger urban area during an individual’s childhood would likely diminish the reputation effects of continued social interaction. (Sautter 25) Higher rates of empathy tended to have two contrary effects by either making an individual more likely to defect or more likely to cooperate, but not to converge toward the median level of cooperation as the majority of participants in this experiment. (Sautter 25) Contrary to the hypotheses originally being tested, it is not that empathy has a simple positive linear relationship with a desire for egalitarian outcomes. Rather, an empathetic emotional disposition likely cultivates a sensitivity to social decisions, which depending on an individual’s social conditioning, leads to a more intense display of cooperation and defection. (Sautter 26) For example, when comparing professional historians and high school students, Wineburg (1991) found taht historians read texts from a critical perspective in which they actively questioned and transformed text, whereas high school students interested in history read from a less critical perspective without seriously questioning the legitimacy of text assertions. (Schraw & Bruning, 1996, 290) In analogous research, Dweck and Leggett (1988) found that older students and even adults often have little specific awareness of the theories and models they use to understand the world. (Schraw & Bruning, 1996, 302)

Learning Evolved, Part III: Coalitionary Education

Altruistic punishment is another tool to rely on. People will forfeit rewards if it means they can punish free-riders and others who have treated them unfairly (Sanfey et al, 2003, 1755). Give students a meaningful opportunity to punish free-riders in their group, such as being able to deduct a point from another’s students project at a cost to one point to the punishing student. The more free-riders free-ride, the more they will be punished, and such a system will significantly increase contributions from students as a whole (Fehr and Gachter, 2000). The benefits of punishing increases with each cheater deterred from free-riding (Boyd et al, 2003, 3533). This sort of punishment is absolutely critical to group work, because without it the human drive to avoid an unfair deal (Smith, 2006) may cause students to give up rather than labor under unfair conditions. Likewise, the presence of free-riders can increase tension and complaints within a group (Price, 2006, 32). Just as we eschew types of instruction that destroys self-efficacy, and so lessons motivation (Chemers, Hu, and Garcia, 2001, 56), we must view free-riding as serious and organize groups such that students can punish, and thereby eliminate, shirking behavior.

Another threat to motivation is the outbreak of intergroup peace. That is, if one group believes the other will not try hard, it may not try hard. Worse, this peace can snowball, because cooperation reduction is most common between groups which have made it a habit (Sapolsky, 2004). Fortunately, human competitiveness should minimize the chances of this. All a teacher must do is make sure that student groups perceive a threat from another groups, and the behavior will follow automatically. A “perception of threat makes [some people] more likely to perceive threat-based messages as credible” (Lupia, 2002, 321), and such messages can be facilitated by having public group meetings at the end of class or in other ways. Humans are naturally biased thinkers (Lodge and Taber, 1-2), and teachers should design classes to exploit the natural human bias towards group competition, and against intergroup stasis.


Of course, there are problems here too. Certain populations are more averse to punishing cheaters than others (Kotulak 2006; Singer et al, 2006), or more be more aggressive than others McDermott 35 2006). Fully a quarter of the population does not punish cheaters in laboratory experiments (Kurzban, DeScioli, and O’Brien, 2006) and these types that do not are stable — they perform the same behavior in experiment after experiment (Smith et al, 2004). Interestingly, it appears to be possible to quickly identify who will act cooperatively and who won’t based on simple games (Kurzban and DeScioli, 2005), which implies teachers can use quick “fun-day” session to know how to group students for maximal group output. Likewise, in general required Classes, students may be sorted by major as certain fields of study attract more cooperative students than others (Guth and Tietz, 1990). This can be done by making sure that enough punishers exist in every group to get the most best effort out of the free-riders (Orbell et al, 2004) — to motivate the unmotivated, in other words. If predictive performance sorting such as standardized test scores (Robbins et al, 2005, 262) GPA (Weissberg and Owen, 2005, 308), and standardized test scores (Robbins, Le, and Lauever, 2005, 411) are accepted as valid , then gameplay and majors should be, as well.

Throughout series I have argued for an approach in which, while the system is designed by the teachers, much of the everyday work is done by the students. This does not take away old methods, such as having a well defined syllabus (Barker, 2002, 382), but rather complements those methods with new knowledge.. Sometimes the best thing that teachers can do is to sit back and not pretend to know every answer (Roth, 1996, 203), or for that matter to know the best way to motivate in every circumstance. Researchers in other fields have now confirmed this, demonstrating that decentralized reward-and-punishment models do not need an all-seeing governing authority (Orbell et al, 2004, 1). Likewise, complex group assignments will allow students to specialize their tasks to their learning styles (Halonen ,2002). Some types of behavior can be adaptive in one setting but ordinarily disruptive in classrooms (Ding, 2002; Harpending and Cochran, 2002), and by allowing the same sort of specialization we see everywhere else in our society, we can design classrooms to get the best motivation out of everyone while still delivering concrete projects, reports, and other academic goods.


Learning Evolved, a companion series to Classroom Democracy
1. Darwinism-Cognitivism
2. Social Motivation
3. Coalitionary Education
4. Bibliography