Understanding the Social Dynamics That Cause Cooperation to Thrive, or Fail

Erol Akçay news

In a new report in the journal Nature Communications, Erol Akçay, an assistant professor of biology, addresses the question of how an evolving social network influences the likelihood of cooperation in a theoretical social group. He finds that, although networks where connected individuals are closely related are more likely to cooperate, such groups can trigger a feedback loop that alters the structure of the network and leads to cooperation’s collapse.

Examples of cooperation abound in nature, from honeybee hives to human families. Yet it’s also easy enough to find examples of selfishness and conflict. Studying the conditions that give rise to cooperation has occupied researchers for generations, with implications for understanding the forces that drive workplace dynamics, charitable giving, animal behavior, even international relations.

“We know from a half-century of study that cooperation is quite easy to evolve in principle,” says Akçay, “in the sense that there are many, many sets of conditions that can make cooperative behaviors a better strategy than non-cooperative behaviors. So given that, why isn’t the world a cooperative paradise? Because we know it isn’t.”

Click here to read the full story.

Arts & Sciences News

Eugene Mele and Charles Kane to Share Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

The Physicists are recognized for work on topological insulators, materials with unique properties that may help usher in new, ultra-efficient electronic devices, even quantum computing.

View Article >
Aronowitz and Krueger Are Named Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professors in the Social Sciences

Robert Aronowitz, Professor and Chair of History and Sociology of Science, and Dirk Krueger, Professor of Economics, have been appointed Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professors in the Social Sciences.

View Article >
Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics Design Pairs New With Old

Located on the northeast corner of Walnut and 36th streets, the project involved the adaptive reuse and expansion of the circa 1925 Art Deco-style West Philadelphia Title and Trust Company building.

View Article >
Turner Schulman Endowed Research Fund Supports the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration

CSERI is a first-of-its-kind research center, focusing on the intersecting narratives of ethnicity, race, and immigration in U.S. life and supporting research at the faculty, graduate, and undergraduate levels.

View Article >
Daniel Mindiola Named Brush Family Professor of Chemistry

Mindiola’s many professional honors include the Presidential Early Career Award and the Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation.

View Article >
Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis to join Fels as Professor of Practice

Michael DiBerardinis, who has served as Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia under Mayor James Kenney since January 2016, will be joining the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences in January 2019 as a Professor of Practice at the Fels Institute of Government.

View Article >