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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The pride learning bias : evidence that pride displays cue knowledge and guide social learning Martens, Jason Peter


Humans learn a great deal by copying knowledgeable others, but how do individuals determine which social group members have knowledge that should be copied? I argue that the pride nonverbal expression functions to signal expertise and knowledge, and thus to bias learning such that proud others are more likely to be copied. In Study 1, I tested, and found support, for an automatic association between pride displays and knowledge. In Studies 2 and 3, I used different methods to establish the existence of a pride learning bias, which is motivated by a heightened desire for knowledge. That is, I found that pride-displaying confederates are copied significantly more frequently than those displaying other expressions, and that this occurs only when learners are financially motivated to find correct responses, suggesting that pride expressions bias social learning in a functional manner. Study 4 showed that this tendency to copy pride-displaying others transfers to other domains than the domain where pride was originally displayed, suggesting that the expertise of the individual displaying pride generalizes to other areas. In Study 5, I tested the universality of this bias by exploring whether Fijians in a small-scale traditional society demonstrated it; results were inconclusive. In Studies 6 and 7, I tested the automaticity of the bias, and found that participants do not need to be aware of having viewed pride displays in order to show preferential copying behavior (Study 6); however, these results might be due to an automatic bias to attune to positively valenced expressions, rather to pride in particular. Similarly, results were inconclusive regarding whether the pride learning bias occurs efficiently, without the need for working memory (Study 7). Finally, I performed two meta-analyses on the data collected in Studies 2A and 3-7, which supported my earlier conclusions. Together, the findings indicate that pride displays are functional for observers and play a critical role in social learning, and begin to shed light on the nature of this mechanism.

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