Symposium 2015

Virtual Library File - Human Cooperation

The Challenge

How can the communities of people around the globe be induced to become more caring, not just within the social groups from which they derive their identities, but also across these groups? As the w ...

How can the communities of people around the globe be induced to become more caring, not just within the social groups from which they derive their identities, but also across these groups? As the world's problems - from climate change to financial crises - become more global in reach, how can people's domain of altruism be extended accordingly? What concrete steps can be taken across countries and cultures to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and weaken the forces of conflict?

This article reviews the five mechanisms by which human cooperation might have evolved evolutionary: direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, spatial selection, multilevel selection and kin selection from a socio-biological point of view. To this end the article combines theoretical research on evolutionary dynamics with experiments examining human behavior. The authors are of the opinion that intuitively humans favor cooperation as a behavioral response if reciprocation from other actors or the environment has been observed or is likely. However, the powerful role played by learning and culture for the evolution of cooperation is stressed. Being aware of these evolutionary dynamics behind cooperation can serve as a guideline for individuals and institutions seeking to promote more cooperative behavior and policies in settings in which it is currently lacking.