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Human Cooperation and the Crises of Climate Change, COVID-19, and Misinformation

Authors
  • Van Lange, Paul A.M.
  • Rand, David G.
Type
Published Article
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
Jan 04, 2022
Volume
73
Pages
379–402
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-020821-110044
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Contemporary society is facing many social dilemmas—including climate change, COVID-19, and misinformation—characterized by a conflict between short-term self-interest and longer-term collective interest. The climate crisis requires paying costs today to reduce climate-related harms and risks that we face in the future. The COVID-19 crisis requires the less vulnerable to pay costs to benefit the more vulnerable in the face of great uncertainty. The misinformation crisis requires investing effort to assess truth and abstain from spreading attractive falsehoods. Addressing these crises requires an understanding of human cooperation. To that end, we present (a) an overview of mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation, including mechanisms based on similarity and interaction; (b) a discussion of how reputation can incentivize cooperation via conditional cooperation and signaling; and (c) a review of social preferences that undergird the proximate psychology of cooperation, including positive regard for others, parochialism, and egalitarianism. We discuss the three focal crises facing our society through the lens of cooperation, emphasizing how cooperation research can inform our efforts to address them.

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