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Auteur: Jason QUINLEY

Co-Auteur(s): Christopher, AHERN, University of Pennsylvania, United States

Would you trust me please?

Abstract/Résumé: Language is used not just to convey information, but also to negotiate relationships. Politeness is one means by which we accomplish the latter. We incorporate the social wants of interlocutors into a game of trust to analyze requests. We show that third-party observation is sufficient, but not necessary for cooperation in requests. Some form of other-regarding preferences is required, and allows for a wider range of requests across relationships through politeness. Face is the term given to an individual’s basic social wants, characterized broadly as the need for autonomy(negative face) and acceptance(positive face). Agents' preferences and abilities may differ, requiring them to make requests, thereby commit face-threatening acts. To mitigate the threat, speakers can address an interlocutor's negative(positive) face through deference(flattery), calibrated appropriately to the situation. Trust Games involve an agent who has the option to invest some proportion of an endowment with a trustee. The amount invested grows by a rate and the trustee then decides what proportion, if any, to return to the investor. Both would do better if the investor invested some amount, and the trustee returned an amount greater than the initial endowment. However, neither of these actions are rational. It is always better for the trustee to keep the money, so it is always better for the investor to never invest. We take requests to be trust games. The requester(X) can ask(A) or not ask(¬A) a request. By asking, X “invests” some amount of social capital in the form of face with the requestee(Y). Y must then decide between granting the requests(G) or not(¬G). If Y grants the request, then X may express thanks(T) or not(¬T), again investing some amount in Y's face. Given that granting a request and thanking incur some cost, X prefers not thanking to thanking, and Y prefers not granting the request to granting it, so X should never ask in the first place. Third-party observation has been shown to increase rates of cooperation in exactly such situations. If a third party observes Y denying a reasonable request, then Y cultivates a negative reputation. If X does not sufficiently address Y's face, then X incurs an analogous negative reputation. We show how observation increases the likelihood of granting certain requests. Where observation is not possible, other-regarding preferences are required. We provide a precise formulation of the degree of sympathy required to grant requests. Further, we show that a system of requests with politeness allows for a broader range of requests between individuals with a given relationship and allows for a given request to be made across more types of relationships.