Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello, Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms & Elizabeth Spelke
(Boston Review Books)

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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 Michael Tomasello, Carol Dweck, Joan Silk, Brian Skyrms & Elizabeth Spelke

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Michael Tomasello is Codirector of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig. He is the author of The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition and Constructing a Language: A Usage-Based Theory of Language Acquisition.
Published August 28, 2009 by The MIT Press. 229 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships, Science & Math, Self Help, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Silk, Carol Dweck, Brian Skyrns and Elizabeth Spelke—whose comments are illuminating, and while they do not fully agree with Tomasello, they all agree that “[h]is cutting edge theory and research has altered the face of developmental psychology by merging cognitive and social development, histori...

Aug 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Why We Cooperate (Boston Revi...

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