Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Dominance Theory (Cummins)

  • Denise D. CumminsEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2620-1


A theory proposed by Denise D. Cummins that interprets specific social cognitive functions as adaptations to the exigencies of living in a dominance (or status) hierarchy.


Eight decades of empirical investigation have unequivocally demonstrated that human reasoning performance varies as a function of problem content. Problems with identical formal properties but different subjective contents often produce vastly different levels of performance, a phenomenon referred to as content effects. The most robust performance differences are observed when people are asked to reason about rules that describe constraints on behavior, such as permissions, obligations, prohibitions, or warnings. When asked to test the truth of such rules, people invariably and wrongly adopt a confirmation bias strategy, choosing to investigate cases that could prove the rule true rather than those that could prove the rule false. The latter strategy is the only one that can provide...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and PhilosophyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jessica Hehman
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of RedlandsRedlandsUSA