Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello

Why We Cooperate

byMichael Tomasello

Hardcover | August 28, 2009

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Drop something in front of a two-year-old, and she's likely to pick it up for you. This is not a learned behavior, psychologist Michael Tomasello argues. Through observations of young children in experiments he himself has designed, Tomasello shows that children are naturally -- and uniquely -- cooperative. Put through similar experiments, for example, apes demonstrate the ability to work together and share, but choose not to. As children grow, their almost reflexive desire to help -- without expectation of reward -- becomes shaped by culture. They become more aware of being a member of a group. Groups convey mutual expectations, and thus may either encourage or discourage altruism and collaboration. Either way, cooperation emerges as a distinctly human combination of innate and learned behavior. In Why We Cooperate, Tomasello's studies of young children and great apes help identify the underlying psychological processes that very likely supported humans' earliest forms of complex collaboration and, ultimately, our unique forms of cultural organization, from the evolution of tolerance and trust to the creation of such group-level structures as cultural norms and institutions. Scholars Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms, and Elizabeth Spelke respond to Tomasello's findings and explore the implications.

About The Author

Michael Tomasello is Codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. His books include The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition, Constructing a Language, and The Origins of Human Communication (MIT Press, 2008). Michael Tomasello is Codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anth...

Details & Specs

Title:Why We CooperateFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 7 × 4.5 × 0.62 inPublished:August 28, 2009Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262013592

ISBN - 13:9780262013598

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... the fascinating approach to the question of what makes us human renders this a singularly worthwhile read.