Coalitional Psychology (us versus them; collective action; perceptions of race; multi-individual cooperation)

Cooperation between 3 or more individuals who are not kin is rare in the animal kingdom, yet common in our species. How could this have evolved? See:

Pietraszewski, D. & German, T.C. (2013) Coalitional psychology on the playground: Reasoning about indirect social consequences in preschoolers and adultsCognition, 126(3), 352-363.

Tooby, J., Cosmides, L., & Price, M. (2006). Cognitive adaptations for n-person exchange: The evolutionary roots of organizational behavior.Managerial and Decision Economics, 27, 103-129.

Cosmides, L., Tooby, J. & Kurzban, R.  (2003).  Perceptions of race.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7(4), 173-179 (April).  PMID: 12691766 or PDF

Price, M. E., Cosmides, L. & Tooby, J.  (2002).  Punitive sentiment as an anti-free rider psychological device.  Evolution and Human Behavior, 23, 203-231. (doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(01)00093-9)  PDF

"Seeing" others as members of a race may not be inevitable, as many psychologists had thought. Instead, the tendency to notice and remember someone’s race may be a changeable byproduct of brain mechanisms that evolved for another reason: to detect shifting coalitions and alliances. By creating a social context in which race was uncorrelated with coalitional alliances, we were able to drastically decrease the extent to which subjects noticed and remembered other people’s race. Click here for more, also see:

Kurzban, R., Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (2001).  Can race be erased?: Coalitional computation and social categorization.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98(26), 15387-15392. (December 18, 2001; Epub 2001 Dec 11. PMID: 11742078)  or click here

For The Economist's article on this work, click here

For a short summary of the functions of coalition psychology:

Pietraszewski, D. (2013). What is group psychology? Adaptations for mapping shared intentional stances. In M. Banaji & S. Gelman (Eds.), Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other species can teach us (pp. 253-257). New York, NY: Oxford. PDF

For David Pietraszewski's email, click here, or for more information, click here.

For more relevant research by Robert Kurzban and by Michael Price:

Robert Kurzban:

See also The Economist article on his additional work (Jan 24, 2005)

Michael Price: