Profiles

Kimmo Eriksson

Kimmo Eriksson

Forskare, Professor

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Works at Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
Email kieri@ark.su.se
Visiting address Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7
Postal address Centrum för evolutionär kulturforskning 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution. I am also a professor of mathematics/applied mathematics at Mälardalens högskola.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Kimmo Eriksson (et al.). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 69, 59-64

    The ultimatum game is a common economic experiment in which some participants reject another's unfair offer of how to split some money, even though it leaves them both worse off. This costly behavior can be seen as enforcement of a fairness norm and has been labeled “altruistic punishment”, suggesting that it is a moral thing to do. But is this behavior viewed as moral by participants? Is it viewed as punishment? And are the payoff consequences of the behavior sufficient to determine the answers to these questions? To investigate this we framed costly punishment in two different ways: either as rejection of an offer (the standard ultimatum game framing) or as reduction of payoff. In a series of paid and hypothetical experiments we found that moral concerns about costly punishment depended on the framing. Specifically, the reduction frame elicited more moral concern about, and less use of, costly punishment than did the rejection frame. Several implications are discussed.

  • 2016. Kimmo Eriksson, Julie C. Coultas, Mícheál de Barra. Journal of Cognition and Culture 16 (1-2), 122-143

    Research on cultural transmission among Americans has established a bias for transmitting stories that have disgusting elements (such as exposure to rats and maggots). Conceived of as a cultural evolutionary force, this phenomenon is one type of emotional selection. In a series of online studies with Americans and Indians we investigate whether there are cultural differences in emotional selection, such that the transmission process favours different kinds of content in different countries. The first study found a bias for disgusting content (rats and maggots) among Americans but not among Indians. Four subsequent studies focused on how country interacts with kind of emotional content (disgusting vs. happy surprises and good news) in reactions to transmission of stories or information. Whereas Indian participants, compared to Americans, tended to be less interested in, and excited by, transmission of stories and news involving common disgust-elicitors (like rats), the opposite pattern held for transmission of happy surprises and good news (e.g., the opening of a new public facility). We discuss various possible explanations and implications.

  • 2016. Kimmo Eriksson, Per A. Andersson, Pontus Strimling. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 19 (2), 152-168

    Recent studies have found disapproval of peer punishment of norm violations. This seems puzzling, given the potential benefits peer punishers contribute to the group. We suggest part of the answer is that peer punishers tend to come across as aggressive and as such may be viewed as more problematic than beneficial to have around. We used simple computer animations of geometric shapes to enact 15 precise variations of social sanctions against a norm violator. More than 1,800 subjects were recruited to watch an animation and judge the behavior and character of the animated agents. They also completed a trait aggression measure. Across the variations peer punishment was typically disapproved of, especially when severe or openly aggressive, and especially by subjects low on trait aggression. We conclude that there seems to be a social norm against peer punishment and that dislike of aggressiveness seems to be part of the reason why.

  • 2016. Kimmo Eriksson, Fredrik Jansson. Judgment and decision making 11 (3), 205-212

    A strategy activated in one task may be transferred to subsequent tasks and prevent activation of other strategies that would otherwise come to mind, a mechanism referred to as procedural priming. In a novel application of procedural priming we show that it can make or break cognitive illusions. Our test case is the 1/k illusion, which is based on the same unwarranted mathematical shortcut as the MPG illusion and the time-saving bias. The task is to estimate distances between values of fractions on the form 1/k. Most people given this task intuitively base their estimates on the distances between the denominators (i.e., the reciprocals of the fractions), which may yield very poor estimations of the true distances between the fractions. As expected, the tendency to fall for this illusion is related to cognitive style (Study 1). In order to apply procedural priming we constructed versions of the task in which the illusion is weak, in the sense that most people do not fall for it anymore. We then gave participants both strong illusion and weak illusion versions of the task (Studies 2 and 3). Participants who first did the task in the weak illusion version would often persist with the correct strategy even in the strong illusion version, thus breaking the otherwise strong illusion in the latter task. Conversely, participants who took the strong illusion version first would then often fall for the illusion even in the weak illusion version, thus strengthening the otherwise weak illusion in the latter task.

  • 2015. Kimmo Eriksson, Ali Kazemi, Kjell Törnblom. Social justice research 28 (4), 401-414

    Previous research has demonstrated that unfairness judgments of resource allocations become more complex when there are more than two recipients. In order to explain some of this complexity, we propose a set of psychological mechanisms that may underlie four different choices of maximally unfair resource allocations (MUA): Self-Single-Loser, Self-One-Loser-of-Many, Self-Single-Winner, and Self-One-Winner-of-Many. From this psychological theory, several predictions are derived and tested in vignette studies involving a total of 708 participants recruited online using MTurk. As predicted by our theory, (1) choices of MUA where there is a single loser were much more common when the allocated resource was of negative rather than positive valence, and (2) the amount of egoistic bias individuals exhibited when judging the unfairness in receiving a small rather than a large share in a non-extreme multi-party allocation was predicted by their choices of MUA. These findings suggest that an individual's choice of MUA reveals some generally relevant principles of how unfairness is perceived in multi-party allocations. This opens up new lines of inquiry, especially regarding research on social dilemmas and social value orientation.

  • 2015. Kimmo Eriksson, Alexander Funcke. Political Psychology 36 (3), 341-350

    The above-average effect is the phenomenon that people tend to judge themselves above average on desirable traits. Based on social identity theory, we propose that a below-average effect may arise when individuals rate themselves and the average ingroup member on traits stereotypically associated with the ingroup. In two studies, Republican and Democrat participants rated themselves and the average political ingroup member on possession of desirable traits related to warmth and competence. Current political stereotypes in America associate the former dimension with Democrats and the latter with Republicans. Consistent with our hypothesis, the above-average effect was moderated by political group and dimension in interaction. In particular, Democrats rated themselves below the average Democrat on warmth and Republicans rated themselves below the average Republican on competence.

  • 2015. Kimmo Eriksson, Pontus Strimling, Julie C. Coultas. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 129, 59-69

    Modern research on social norms makes an important distinction between descriptive norms (how people commonly behave) and injunctive norms (what one is morally obligated to do). Here we propose that this distinction is far from clear in the cognition of social norms. In a first study, using the implicit association test, the concepts of common and moral were found to be strongly associated. Some implications of this automatic common-moral association were investigated in a subsequent series of experiments: Our participants tended to make explicit inferences from descriptive norms to injunctive norms and vice versa; they tended to mix up descriptive and injunctive concepts in recall tasks; and frequency information influenced participants' own moral judgments. We conclude by discussing how the common-moral association could play a role in the dynamics of social norms.

  • 2015. Fredrik Jansson, Kimmo Eriksson. PLoS ONE 10 (12)

    Determinants of cooperation include ingroup vs. outgroup membership, and individual traits, such as prosociality and trust. We investigated whether these factors can be overridden by beliefs about people’s trust. We manipulated the information players received about each other’s level of general trust, “high” or “low”. These levels were either measured (Experiment 1) or just arbitrarily assigned labels (Experiment 2). Players’ choices whether to cooperate or defect in a stag hunt (or an assurance game)—where it is mutually beneficial to cooperate, but costly if the partner should fail to do so—were strongly predicted by what they were told about the other player’s trust label, as well as by what they were told that the other player was told about their own label. Our findings demonstrate the importance for cooperation in a risky coordination game of both first- and second-order beliefs about how much people trust each other. This supports the idea that institutions can influence cooperation simply by influencing beliefs.

  • 2015. Kimmo Eriksson, Pontus Strimling. Mathematical Social Sciences 77, 1-8

    Here we propose the idea that the success of an argument in favor of an issue position should depend on whether the argument resonates with the audience's values. Now consider two groups, one of which has a broader set of values than the other. We develop a mathematical model to investigate how this difference in broadness of values may drive a change on the population level towards positions in line with the more narrow set of values. The model is motivated by the empirical finding that conservative morality rests equally on moral foundations that are individualizing (harm and fairness) and binding (purity, authority, and ingroup), whereas liberal morality relies mainly on the individualizing moral foundations. The model then predicts that, under certain conditions, the whole population will tend to move towards positions on moral issues (e.g., same-sex marriage) that are supported by individualizing moral foundations.

  • 2015. Kimmo Eriksson, Pontus Strimling. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 46 (10), 1330-1332
  • 2015. Daniel Cownden, Kimmo Eriksson, Pontus Strimling. Synthese, 1-18

    Game theory is a formal approach to behavior that focuses on the strategic aspect of situations. The game theoretic approach originates in economics but has been embraced by scholars across disciplines, including many philosophers and biologists. This approach has an important weakness: the strategic aspect of a situation, which is its defining quality in game theory, is often not its most salient quality in human (or animal) cognition. Evidence from a wide range of experiments highlights this shortcoming. Previous theoretical and empirical work has sought to address this weakness by considering learning across an ensemble of multiple games simultaneously. Here we extend this framework, incorporating artificial neural networks, to allow for an investigation of the interaction between the perceptual and functional similarity of the games composing the larger ensemble. Using this framework, we conduct a theoretical investigation of a population that encounters both stag hunts and prisoner’s dilemmas, two situations that are strategically different but which may or may not be perceptually similar.

  • 2014. Kimmo Eriksson, Julie C. Coultas. Journal of Cognition and Culture 14 (1-2), 1-26

    AbstractIn one conception of cultural evolution, the evolutionary success of cultural units that are transmitted from individual to individual is determined by forces of cultural selection. Here we argue that it is helpful to distinguish between several distinct phases of the transmission process in which cultural selection can operate, such as a choose-to-receive phase, an encode-and-retrieve phase, and a choose-to-transmit phase. Here we focus on emotional selection in cultural transmission of urban legends, which has previously been shown to operate in the choose-to-transmit phase. In a series of experiments we studied serial transmission of stories based on urban legends manipulated to be either high or low on disgusting content. Results supported emotional selection operating in all three phases of cultural transmission. Thus, the prevalence of disgusting urban legends in North America may be explained by emotional selection through a multitude of pathways.

  • 2014. Kimmo Eriksson, Alexander Funcke. Social Psychology and Personality Science 5 (1), 76-83

    Prior research has linked religiosity to certain forms of self-enhancement. We extend this literature by three studies linking religiosity to the well-established better-than-average effect (BAE). First, a reanalysis of self-judgments of desirable characteristics in 15 nations showed that the BAE was stronger in more religious countries, even taking into account gross domestic product, interdependence, and economic inequality. Second, in two online surveys totaling 1,000 Americans, the BAE was stronger among more religious individuals. Several observations indicated that this relation was due to individuals self-stereotyping with respect to their religious in-groups. In particular, the relation was restricted to characteristics on the warmth dimension, consistent with the religious stereotype, and the average religious in-group member tended to be judged even more favorably than self. The latter phenomenon, which we term humble self-enhancement, is consistent with other studies linking stronger religiosity to greater favoritism of the religious in-group and greater derogation of religious out-groups.

  • 2014. Kimmo Eriksson, Olle Häggström. PLoS ONE 9 (4), e95949

    In this paper we review, and elaborate on, the literature on a regression artifact related to Lord's paradox in a continuous setting. Specifically, the question is whether a continuous property of individuals predicts improvement from training between a pretest and a posttest. If the pretest score is included as a covariate, regression to the mean will lead to biased results if two critical conditions are satisfied: (1) the property is correlated with pretest scores and (2) pretest scores include random errors. We discuss how these conditions apply to the analysis in a published experimental study, the authors of which concluded that linearity of children's estimations of numerical magnitudes predicts arithmetic learning from a training program. However, the two critical conditions were clearly met in that study. In a reanalysis we find that the bias in the method can fully account for the effect found in the original study. In other words, data are consistent with the null hypothesis that numerical magnitude estimations are unrelated to arithmetic learning.

  • 2014. Kimmo Eriksson, Brent Simpson. Social Psychology and Personality Science 5 (3), 319-325

    In three web-based experiments, we show that both actual poverty and experimentally induced (imagined) poverty create a preference for greater inequality. Study 1, a cross-national comparison between Americans and Swedes, showed that respondents who were actually poor and those who were experimentally induced to imagine that they were poor tended to express a heightened preference for greater inequality, and for a higher proportion of poor citizens. Study 2 replicated the effects using different procedures. Study 3 showed that imagining oneself being poor increases preferences for a greater proportion of poor people, but imagining oneself being rich does not increase preferences for a greater proportion of rich people. This poverty prefers company effect might affect support for policies aiming at reducing the number of poor people.

  • 2014. Kimmo Eriksson, Pontus Strimling. Judgment and decision making 9 (5), 360-372

    It is known that presentation of a meaningful label (e. g., The Teamwork Game) can influence decisions in economic games. A common view is that such labels cue associations to preexisting mental models of situations, a process here called frame selection. In the absence of such cues, participants may still spontaneously associate a game with a preexisting frame. We used the public goods game to compare the effect of such spontaneous frame selection with the effect of label framing. Participants in a condition where the public goods game was labeled The Teamwork Game tended to contribute at the same level as participants who spontaneously associated the unlabeled game with teamwork, whereas those who did not associate the the unlabeled game with teamwork tended to make lower contributions. We conclude that neutrally described games may be subject to spontaneous frame selection effects comparable in size to the effects of label framing.

Show all publications by Kimmo Eriksson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 7, 2019

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