spot cheats innate
THE human brain has a centre devoted to responding to cheating
and broken promises, and injury to this part of the brain raises
people's risk of being conned, researchers say.
'Detecting cheating is a real problem for people with
neurological and developmental disorders,' said Dr Valerie Stone, a
University of Denver neuroscientist.
Researchers found that a tribe living in one of the remotest
areas of the Amazonian jungle were as adept at spotting cheats as
Harvard University undergraduates who underwent similar testing.
This helps to show that people have an inborn ability to detect
cheats that does not depend on book learning or social
The researchers did card-game tests on people in traditional
communities in Ecuador's Amazonian region. They proved to be equally
proficient at social exchange tasks, even when the problems
concerned unfamiliar social rules.
Dr John Tooby of the University of California said: 'What is
quite amazing about their performance on cheater detection is that
it flies in the face of all ordinary ideas about learning a
higher-level cognitive skill.
'People are just as good at utterly unfamiliar rules as they are
with rules that are personally and culturally highly familiar.'
Further studies of brain disorders that prevent people from
fulfilling agreements could help habitual scam victims, Dr Stone
'If we can understand the brain systems and psychological
mechanisms involved in trust, we have some hope of being able to
develop interventions to protect such individuals from being
exploited.' --Bloomberg, New Scientist