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Book Chapter

The ontogeny and evolution of cooperation


Grüneisen,  Sebastian
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Grüneisen, S., & Wyman, E. (2020). The ontogeny and evolution of cooperation. In The Cambridge handbook of evolutionary perspectives on human behavior (pp. 265-275). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-42FD-0
This chapter argues and presents evidence that humans have evolved skills and motivations that allow them to flexibly solve the coordination problems. The authors approach this topic from a developmental comparative perspective and reviews behavioral research with young children to investigate cooperative tendencies that develop reliably across human childhood. The chapter presents evidence showing that already by infancy human children, but not chimpanzees, possess abilities for joint attention, as well as distinct social motivations for joint engagement. Over the first years of life, children reliably begin to participate in simple joint interactions that are cognitively rich in the sense that they involve representing joint goals, commitments to joint activities, and a conceptualization of the task from a shared interpersonal perspective. The chapter shows how these abilities provide the basis for more complex forms of mutualistic collaboration, particularly capacities for joint decision-making in coordination problems. It demonstrates that human children display skills and motivations for collaboration in groups based on conventional cultural practices and normative rules. This enables them to reliably collaborate even with in-group strangers. Together, these findings contribute to the understanding of the key foundations of human forms of cooperation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)