Journal of Cognition and Culture 18 (1-2):124-153 (2018)

Research on social transmission suggests that people preferentially transmit information about threats and social interactions. Such biases might be driven by the arousal that is experienced as part of the emotional response triggered by information about threats or social relationships. The current studies tested whether preferences for transmitting threat-relevant information are consistent with a functional motive to recruit social support. USA residents were recruited for six online studies. Studies 1a and 1B showed that participants more often chose to transmit positive, low-arousal vignettes. Studies 2A and 2B showed higher intentions to transmit emotional vignettes to friends. Study 4 showed a preference for transmitting stories that participants had modified and were therefore novel and unique. Studies 2A and 3 suggest that motivations for seeking social support might influence transmission preferences. Overall, the findings are not easily accounted for by any of the major theories of social transmission. We discuss limitations of the current studies and directions for further research.
Keywords social support   negativity bias   cultural transmission   anxiety  threat detection
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DOI 10.1163/15685373-12340018
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