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date: 21 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although tolerance refers to an important aspect of sociality, it has hardly received explicit research attention. Adopting a broad evolutionary perspective, this chapter interprets tolerance as a particular type of social control, allowing individuals to inhibit aggression and continue with “business as usual” when cooperation or reciprocity is mildly disrupted. Both tolerance and the many moral emotions that support it (e.g. guilt, sympathy, forgiveness, and tenderness) are based on perceiving others as vulnerable. A psychological model of tolerance is described in which perceptions of vulnerability activate a (parental) care system that can inhibit activation of a fight-or-flight system, which would be activated by harmful behavior of the tolerated individual. In addition to supporting the validity of the model with social-psychological studies, the chapter discusses the unintended side effects of extreme tolerance (“political correctness”) and relates tolerance to other types of social control, such as mutual criticism, punishment, and negotiation.

Keywords: tolerance, cooperation, social control, morality

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