Department of Psychology 2017-2018 Colloquium Series

Friday, March 23, 2018 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Dr. Felix Warneken

University of Michigan, USA

The Origins of Cooperation: Evidence from Children and Chimpanzees

Humans are able to cooperate with others in sophisticated, flexible ways: sharing valuable resources, assisting others who need help, and working collaboratively in teams. These behaviors are regulated by norms of fairness about the best way to distribute resources and how to treat uncooperative individuals. However, the origins of these behaviors are contested. Are humans initially driven by purely selfish motives and must be taught to be cooperative? Or do we have a biological predisposition for cooperation? How do humans learn to share a common resource according to what’s ‘fair’?

Here I show how experimental studies with children and chimpanzees can provide unique insights into these questions, including studies on altruistic behavior, inequity aversion, and third-party punishment. By studying children, we can examine the interplay of biological predispositions and how they are shaped by social norms and experiences. By in addition looking at our closest evolutionary relatives, we can determine what aspects are human-specific and which aspects have deeper evolutionary roots.

Reception to follow in PAS 3026 (ABC Room)