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External colloquium Jessica Barker (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Wanneer:wo 21-02-2018 15:30 - 16:45
Waar:B.128 Grote Rozenstraat 31


The limits of parochial altruism: insights from evolutionary biology for promoting inter-group cooperation

Humans and other animals must make tradeoffs in allocation of resources: acquiring benefits for oneself comes at the expense of cooperatively providing them to others, and cooperating with members of one’s own group may preclude cooperating with members of other groups. It is often assumed that people show favoritism towards their own group members at the expense of others. Here I explore the limits of such “parochial altruism” in humans. First, I use an economic game based on theory for the division of reproduction in non-human animal societies to show how cooperation with group members is reduced by the potential for competition over resources. Second, I present data from a study on group identity in Southeast Alaska to show how Tlingit (Alaska Native) participants’ expectations of help and reciprocity from clan and community members reveal opportunities for inter-group cooperation. I argue that such cooperation between groups may be qualitatively different to cooperation within groups, and discuss factors that may promote cooperation at these two levels of organization.

Jessica Barker is a Junior Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, and from April 2018 will be a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Toulouse. She is trained as a behavioral ecologist, studying non-human animals as well as humans, and her studies of behavior are informed by an evolutionary perspective. She is broadly interested in cooperation, and her current work focuses on cooperation between groups, particularly in the context of environmental dilemmas.