This chapter examines the role of social emotions such as guilt and shame in supporting human cooperation, and how these could have evolved. It first models the process by which an emotion such as shame may affect social behavior in a simple public goods game before discussing how shame and guilt along with internalized ethical norms foster cooperation to be sustained with minimal levels of costly punishment, resulting in mutually beneficial interactions at limited cost. It also explains how the internalization of norms and the expression of these norms in a social emotion such as guilt and shame induce the individual to place a contemporaneous value on the future consequences of present behavior, rather than relying upon an appropriately discounted accounting of its probable payoffs in the distant future. The chapter suggests that shame, guilt, and other social emotions may function like pain by providing personally beneficial guides for action that bypass the explicit cognitive optimizing process.
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