How observing others’ behavior can increase cooperation

The question of how to get people to work together has bedeviled society for millennia. Now a large-scale field experiment testing how to get more than 2,400 participants to prevent blackouts in the real world is supporting theoretical work on how to get people to cooperate that until now was largely tested only with small experiments in the lab, findings detailed in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mathematical biologist Martin Nowak at Harvard University and his colleagues investigated what they consider a defining aspect of human cooperation, the concept of indirect reciprocity, where one’s behavior toward a person is based on that person’s reputation for what they have done to others. (When it comes to direct reciprocity, on the other hand, your behavior toward a person is based on what that person has done to you.)

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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