OEF Research believes that we can gain insights into cooperation by thinking of humans as we do other animals—shaped, that is, by millions of years of evolution by natural selection. Biologists use evolutionary theory to understand the adaptive functions of social behavior, from the division of labor in honeybee colonies to lethal violence in chimpanzees. We extend the same approaches to human interactions, building mathematical models of cooperation and conflict, and testing them with experimental and epidemiological data. To this end, we study how social structures (such as inequality) and relationships (such as kinship networks) affect our willingness to help or harm one another.
When is it sensible to say that group selection has shaped organismal design? This question has prompted many replies but few credible solutions. This article provides new work that exposes the causal relationships between phenotypes and fitness.
Instructors of large classes often face challenges with student motivation. The classroom incentive structure – grades, extra credit, and instructor and peer acknowledgement – may shape student motivations to engage in their studies.
Social behavior is often described as altruistic, spiteful, selfish, or mutually beneficial. These terms are appealing, but it has not always been clear how they are defined and what purpose they serve.
Written byLindsay Heger, Danielle Jung, Wendy H. Wongon November 15, 2012
How does the way in which a group organizes change the lethality of the group's attacks? In this article, we argue that groups organized vertically as hierarchies are likely to conduct more lethal attacks.