Feelings of obligation are valuations of signaling-mediated social payoffs

Amanda Rotella*, Adam Maxwell Sparks, Pat Barclay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We extend Tomasello's framework by addressing the functional challenge of obligation. If the long-run social consequences of a decision are sufficiently costly, obligation motivates the actor to forgo potential immediate benefits in favor of long-term social interests. Thus, obligation psychology balances the downstream socially-mediated payoffs from a decision. This perspective can predict when and why obligation will be experienced.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere85
JournalBehavioral and Brain Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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