Alicia P. Melis
I am interested in the evolution of cooperation and in particular the psychological mechanisms supporting human cooperative and prosocial interactions. By studying the cooperative tendencies and skills of our closest living primate relatives, the nonhuman great apes, young children and human adults, my aim is to gain insight into the roots of human cooperation. Which psychological traits underlying the cooperative relationships of humans are uniquely human and which traits do we share with other apes? To what extent is cooperation dependent on specific cognitive skills, communication (e.g. language) and moral education? How did humans become so collaborative and skilled at maintaining cooperation in large groups of unrelated individuals? Although all human societies are based on cooperative interactions, cooperation is difficult and can break down easily, so I am also interested in what promotes and helps to stabilize coordination and cooperation between individuals.