The Wary Student, Part 3: Cooperative Behavior

Cooperative behavior depends on the behavior of others (Alford & Hibbing, 2004). People “want a reputation as a fair, desirable, possibly generous, but certainly not foolish person [but also] worry about members oft the group who would take advantage of others if given the chance” (Hibbing & Alford, 2004, 65). Wary cooperation is a typical human behavior, and folks are “inherently disposed to be group oriented, high sensitive to be taken advantage of, and willing to incur costs to punish others who are perceived as putting themselves above the group” (Smith, 2006, 1013). This study extends previous research to see if cognitive load, like social interactions, can alter cooperative behavior.

The perception of justice is an important factor in predicting cooperative behavior, as it does to other aspects of human behavior (Gold, Darley, Hilton, & Zanna, 1984; Tang, Tang, & Tang, 2000; Hibbing & Theiss-Morse, 2001). Fairness can effect student resistance to teacher-imposed order (Paulsel & Chory-Assad, 2005). Teachers may encourage peer interaction and peer punishment,, either explicitly (Mann, 2006) or by using technological tools that encourage its spontaneous emergence (Ronen & Langley, 2004).


Types of Cooperative Behavior

That students often don’t use tools to maximize their position is often seen as a problem (PytlikZillig, Horn, & White, 2003). Yet, viewing potentially disruptive students as social altruists helps to get the most of out every student. Deviant students can help provide examples of rules for other learners (Stevenson, 1991). Indeed, “classrooms are not characterized simply by the things teachers do to students to further their learning. Instead, classrooms take on their characteristics as teachers and students alternatively influence and our influenced by one another” (Copeland, 1980, 164). Other studies and surveys have discussed the reciprocal nature of this learning (Klein, 1971; Doyle, 1979).


Research on cooperative behavior frames altruism in evolution terms (Alford & Hibbing, 2004; Hibbing & Alford, 2004), as cognitive load research emphasizes its own evolutionary component (Sweller, 2004; 2006; van Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005). Evolution and cognitive theories complement each other (Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002): for instance, gut reactions are driven by a lower-order system (Shiv, 2003) that is not available for introspection (Kahneman, 2003) and is revealed under cognitive load (Lieberman, Gaunt, Bilbert, & Trope, 2002). While certainly some evolved mechanisms can rely on conscious thought (Barrett, Federick, Haselton, & Kurzban, 2006; Tooby & Cosmide, 2005), this study is firmly in line with those (Barrett, Federick, Haselton, & Kurzban, 2006; Tooby & Cosmide, 2005) that have tested evolutionary hypotheses with cognitive load.

Likewise, educational psychologists study behavior because of its impact on performance. Behavior, like intelligence, strongly predicts school performance, and behavior is more amenable to modification than intelligence (Harper, Guidubaldi, & Kehle, 1978). Similarly, continued and intense practice (behavior) in an area has a great deal of influence on developing expertise (Weisberg, 1993; Kiewra, 1994; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996), more so than even native talent in that field (Gardner, 1998).


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography

The Wary Student, Part 2: Cognitive Load

The portion of cognitive ability that is required to perform some task is referred to as cognitive load (Sweller, 1988). Cognitive load, while discovered in their contemporary form in the 1980s and 1990s (Sweller & Chandler, 1991), they have been observed for generations (Miller, 1937; Sonneschein, 1982 Sweller & Chandler, 1994) in many domains (Mwangi & Sweller, 1998). People use their cognitive abilities to interact with each other. Group interaction between students “does not naturally occur, but has to be explicitly initiated and maintained by them” (Hron & Friedrich, 2003, 72) and can be cognitively expensive (Dillenboug, 1999; Knowles, Morris, Chiu, & Hong, 2001).

While cognitive load theory focuses mostly on learning (Paas & Kester, 2006), researchers have studied how it effects behavior, too. Decision making (Todd & Benbasat, 1994; Dhar, Nowlis, & Sherman, 2000; Drolet & Luce, 2004), eating (Ward & Mann, 2000), fear conditioning (Carter, Hofstotter, Tsuchiya, & Koch, 2003), infidelity (DeStano, Bartlett, Braveman, & Salovey, 2002), lying (Vrij, Semin, & Bull, 1996; Vrij, Akehurst, & Knight, 2006), marketing (Ariely, 2000, Raghubir & Krishna, 1996), problem solving (Sweller, 1988), racism (Hewstone, Hantzi, & Johnston, 1991). and risk aversion (Benjamin, Brown, & Shapiro, 2006) have been been examined through cognitive load.

Further, in a distance environment this must be done without typical social cues that clarify meaning and tell people when to start and stop talking (Friedrich, Hron, & Hesse, 2001). Educational psychologists have begun to look seriously at how to turn this around and integrate social interaction into instructional web design (Lehman, Bruning, & Horn, 2003). Technology is not a silver bullet (Bruning, 2004) and can decrease performance when used incorrectly (Cramton, 2001). Therefore, considering how cognitive load already imposes size limits on groups (Cosmides & Tooby, 2004; Dillenbourg & Schneider, 1995) and forces students to rely on stereotypes (Fiske, 2000), the intersection of educational technology and cognitive load should be of particular concern to educational psychologists.


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography

Socially-constructed races and the SSSM

Races are large groups, the members of whom are more closely related to each other than to outsiders. Races can be thought of as large-scale families. While race mixing can and does occur, the historical norm appears to have been for in-breeding within races. (It is through this inbreeding that genetic drift can ultimately lead to trouble.) Where there has been race-mixing in the past, it tends to be the males of one race interbreeding with females of another. Thus the United States has a “black” population that tends to be maternally African but often with distantly British paternity, and Mexico has a “mestizo” population that tends to be maternally American Indian and Iberan.

Some doubt the factual reality of race. That is, some claim that racial differences are only skin deep, and that the mere fact that one person has darker or whiter skin (facial features, bone structure, enzyme collection, etc) says nothing about ultimate ancestry. These skeptics would say that only a very small number of traits very among human groups in the first place, and that if one’s ancestral home is nearer the equator, then it makes sense that one’s ancestors evolved darker skin to avoid the sun’s harmful rays.

A problem exists if we claim that race only effects skin: race as a variable explains variation. Fatality rates from a host of diseases, intelligence, and other factors are better predicted if we take race into account than if we don’t. If race is not real below the skin, that means something besides biology is causing this variation. The race-skeptics answer that race is “socially constructed,” that society has decided that people should be fit into this-or-that racial category based on skin color. In other words, if we would ignore race, it would go away.

However, there is another way that race can be “socially constructed”: perhaps culture can cause genetic evolution. Indeed, it appears this has happened. gnxp notes an article from the Proceeds of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) entitled “ Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin.” The article notes how the long-standing view that humans are language-neutral — an infant from any population can learn any language equally well — appears to be false. Children whose parents come from populations that historically have a tonal language (Latvian, Chinese, etc). have a different sort of gene than children whose parents come from a tone-neutral language (English, Spanish, etc)…


As Scientific American writes, the genes that very between tonal and non-tonal populations affect brain size during embryonic development. Unlike subject-verb order, use of passive tense, round vowels, etc, “tone seemed to be inextricably tied to the variations of [the genes].”

Therefore, language may be socially constructed in that society determines which language genes — which type of linguistic intelligence — thrives in a population because of the population’s culture. This implies that other traits — which provide some advantage in a culture — may be selected for in some cultures but not other. Personality, temperment, skin color, disease resistance, general and multiple intelligences, etc. — can all be selected by culture, not just by natural environment, solar radition, etc.

Why does this matter? And why is it even controversial?

Western civilization and American ideology reject the notion that biological differences can result in differences in worth. Paul teaches “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). Whether one’s reality is biologically determined (as in sex), culturally determined (as in wealth), or the result of biological-cultural interaction (nationality), all are equal. Likewise, the Declaration of Independence‘ preambles beginning, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” is absurd if one reads to to say that equal rights are the result of equal inheritance.

However, starting in the 1940s, Academia was seized by the post-Christian, post-American Left. Without the arbitrary faith in equal moral worth that comes from the Christian and American traditions, the Left had to maintain that the facts showed that all humans were born equally capable in all ways. Otherwise, without faith in equal worth, the logical conclusion was Aristotle’s: some men are born to be kings, some are born to be slaves. The Left constructed the Standard Social Sciences Model to justify claims of equal worth by claiming that everyone had equal inheritance.

But the Standard Social Sciences Model is now falling apart. Every week brings new studies which show how genetics influece important traits, such as intelligence. And increasingly, we see papers like the langauge one which implies that cultures shape the biology of their host-nations. Contemporary genetics veto the possibility of equal inheritances, and increasingly the existence of races is seen to be more and more likely.

The SSSM is bankrupt. And with it, the logic of the left. Either a mechanism is found to uphold human equality in the absense of equal inheritances, or the doctrine of equal worth must be abandoned.

The Wary Student, Part 11: Bibliography

Works alphabetically beginning with “A” above the fold. Everyone else below:

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Alford, J., & Hibbing, J. (2006b). Could Political Attitudes Be Shaped by Evolution Working Through Genes? Tidsskriftet Politik: August 2006 edition.
Ariely, D. (2000). Controlling the information flow: Effects on consumer’s decision making and preferences. The Journal of Consumer Research, 27(2), 233-248.


Bannert, M. (2002). Managing cognitive load – recent trends in cognitive load theory. Learning and Instruction, 12, 139-146.
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Benjamin, D. J., Brown, S. A., & Shapiro, J. M. (2006). Who is ‘behavioral’? Cognitive ability and anomalous preferences. Unpublished manuscript. Available online: http://www.dklevine.com/archive/refs4122247000000001334.pdf.
Benton, S.L., Kiewra, K.A., Whitfil, J.M., & Dennison, R. (1993). Encoding and external-storage effects on writing processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 267-280.
Bethwaite, J. & Tompkinson, P. (1996). The ultimatum game and non-selfish utility functions. Journal of Economic Psychology, 17(2), 259-271.
Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. (1999). Is equality passe? Boston Review, 23(6). Retrieved online http://bostonreview.net/BR23.6/bowles.html.
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Bjorklund, D. F., & Pellegrini, A. D. (2002). The origins of human nature: Evolutionary developmental psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Carter, R.M., Hofstotter, C., Tsuchiya, N., & Koch, Christof. (2003). Working memory and fear conditioning. PNAS, 100(3), 1399-1404.
Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8(4), 293-332.
Cramton, C.D. (2001). The mutual knowledge problem and its consequence for dispersed collaboration. Organization Science, 12(3), 346-371.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. HarperCollins: New York.
Copeland, W.D. (1980). Teaching-learning behaviors and the demands of the classroom environment. The Elementary School Journal, 80(4), 163-177.
Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2004). Knowing thyself: The evolutionary psychology of moral reasoning and moral sentiments. In R. E. Freeman & P. Werhane (Eds.), Business, science, and ethics: The Ruffin series (No. 4, pp. 93–128). Charlottesville, VA: Society for Business Ethics.

Dempsey, M.S., PytlikZillig, L.M., & Bruning, R. (2005). Building writing assessment skills using web-based cognitive support features, in Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Mary Bodvarrson, & Roger Bruning, Eds. (pp. 83-106). Technology-based education: Brining researchers and practitioners together. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M., Braverman, J., & Salovey, P. (2002). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolutionary mechanism or artifact of measurement? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1103-1116.
Dhar, R., Nowlis, S.M., & Sherman, S.J. (2000). Trying hard or hardly trying: An analysis of context effects in choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9(4), 189-200.
Dillenbourg, P. & Schneider, D. (1995). Mediating the mechanisms which make collaborative learning sometimes effective. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(2/3), 131-146.
Dillenbourg, P. (1999) What do you mean by collaborative learning?. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed) Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. (pp.1-19). Oxford: Elsevier.
Doyle, W. (1979). Classroom effects. Theory into Practice, 18(3), 138-144.
Drolet, A. & Luce, M.F. (2004). The rationalizing effects of cognitive load on emotion-based trade-off avoidance. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 63-77.

Fiske, S.T. (2000). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination at the seam between the centuries: Evolution, culture, mind, and brain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(3), 299-322.
Friedrich, H.F., Hron, A., & Hesse, F.W. (2001). A framework for designing and evaluating virtual seminars. European Journal of Education, 36(2), 157-174.

Gardner, H. (1998). Extraordinary minds. Basic Books: New York, NY.
Gerjets, P., Scheiter, K., & Catrabone, R. (2004). Designing instructional examples to reduce intrinsic cognitive load: Moral versus modular presentation of solution procedures. Instructional Science, 32, 33-58.
Gold, L.J., Darley, J.M., Hilton, J.L., & Zanna, M.P. (1984). Children’s perceptions of procedural justice. Child Development, 55(5), 1752-1759.
Gowdy, J., Iorgulescu, R., & Onyeiwu, S. (2003). Fairness and retaliation in a rural Nigerian village. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 52(4), 469-479.

Harper, G.F., Guidubaldi, J., & Kehle, T.J. (1978). Is academic achievement related to classroom behavior? The Elementary School Journal, 78(3), 202-207.
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Hibbing, J.R. & Thiess-Morse, E. (2001). Process preferences and American politics: What the people want the government to be. American Political Science Review, 95(1), 145-153.
Horn, C.A. PytlikZillig, L.M., Bruning, R., & Kauffman, D.F. (2003). At risk in cyberspace, in Roger Bruning, Christy A. Horn, & Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Eds. (pp. 129-152). Web-based learning: What do we know? Where do we go? Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Hron, A. & Friedrich, H.F. (2003). A review of web-based collaborative learning: factors beyond technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19, 70-79.

Igo, L.B., Bruning, R., McCrudden, M.T., & Kauffman, D.F. (2003). InfoGatherer: A tool for gathering and organizing information from the web, in Roger Bruning, Christy A. Horn, & Lisa M. PytlikZillig, Eds. (pp. 57-78). Web-based learning: What do we know? Where do we go? Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
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Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. American Psychologist, 58(9), 697-720.
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Mann, B.L. (2005). Testing the validity of Post and Vote Web-based peer assessment, In David Williams. Scott Howell and Mary Hricko (Eds.). Online Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation: Emerging Practices (pp. 132-153) Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.
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The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography

Apartment Move-In Day

Back to Nebraska, and moved into the new apartment. The location is pretty and I already got a TV hooked up to a DVD player with Lost Seasons 1 & 2. (Hurrah!) So far noticed the following problems:

Non-functional electrical plug
Under the sink
On top of the refrigerator
Handles in the kitchen
Visibly dirty carpet
Sticky linoleum
Unwashed porch window
bad key for postage box
dirty and sticky handrail

Because I noticed these in stages, I left a total of three voice mails with the landlord company. I expect a call back Monday morning, followed by a quick resolution.

The Wary Student, Part 1: Abstract

This study reports experimental results on the effects of cognitive load on cooperative behavior. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, high cognitive load or low cognitive load. Visual, audible, and internal extrinsic cognitive load varied between conditions. The participants participated in an extended ultimatum game designed to measure positive, neutral, and negative cooperation in a distance education setting.

Results reveal that cognitive load decreases negative, or retaliatory, cooperation. Further, an interaction effect is discovered where cognitive load changes the behavior of those who would have cooperated, but not those who would have failed to cooperate. Results are highly significant.

This report ends with a brief description of similar findings in the literature, and then places the study in a larger program of research.


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography