Co-operation and conflict in human groups

The most pressing challenges facing humankind have to do with achieving cooperation within and between groups, and with avoiding escalations of aggressive conflicts between groups. Deriving positive solutions to these challenges requires understanding of the fundamentals of human behavior, motivation, and decision making. We integrate modern evolutionary theory with empirical studies of decision making to study human social behavior. The overarching theme of the research is to study the origin, role, and implications of group structure in human social behavior and cultural change. Specific goals include:

  • Unraveling the dynamics and interactions of within-group cooperation, intergroup conflict, and group size evolution. Here we study the dynamics of coalition-building and within and between-group interactions, explicitly considering the feedbacks of group size and group interactions on individual incentives to join coalitions and to cooperate.
  • Studying the role of communication and social institutions in affecting the nature of between-group and within-group interactions. Here we study how institutions, which have been shown to increase cooperation in single-group experiments, affect the nature of between-group interactions.

Research team