Evolution, Cooperation, and Conflict

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. 

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Threat of World War

THE ENDURING THREAT OF A LARGE INTERSTATE WAR

Aaron Clauset Written by Aaron Clauset on September 20, 2017

Since 1945, there have been relatively few large interstate wars, especially compared to the preceding 30 years. The implications of this pattern, sometimes called “the Long Peace,” remain highly controversial. Is this an enduring trend toward peace

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Ecology and Evolution

Causality and the Levels of Selection

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on March 30, 2016

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.

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Research Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on February 5, 2016

Mated birds of many species vocalize together, producing duets. Duetting behavior occurs at two levels of organization: the individual level and the pair level.

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Social evolution

Social evolution in the shadow of asymmetrical relatedness

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp, Peter D. Taylor on April 29, 2015

The persistence of altruism and spite remains an enduring problem of social evolution.

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Competition and Cooperation in Classroom

Cooperation and Competition in Large Classrooms

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp, Joseph Kim, Peter Taylor, Pat Barclay on October 23, 2014

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.

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Evolutionary Biology

How to distinguish altruism from spite (and why we should bother)

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on October 8, 2013

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.

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Terrorism and Political Violence

Organizing for Resistance: How Group Structure Impacts the Character of Violence

Written by Lindsay Heger, Danielle Jung, Wendy H. Wong on 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.

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