CSH Talk by Chaitanya Gokhale: “The power of belief—How collective narratives catalyse cooperation”

Jun 14, 2022 | 15:0016:00

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This talk will be presented by Chaitanya Gokhale from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön (Germany).


If you would like to attend, please send us an email.


Title: “The power of belief—How collective narratives catalyse cooperation”





Humans invest in fantastic stories—mythologies. Recent evolutionary theories suggest that cultural selection may favour moralising stories that motivate prosocial behaviours. A key challenge is to explain the emergence of mythologies that lack explicit moral exemplars or directives. Here, we resolve this puzzle with an evolutionary model in which arbitrary mythologies transform a collection of egoistic individuals into a cooperative.


We show how these otherwise puzzling amoral, nonsensical, and fictional narratives act as exquisitely functional coordination devices and facilitate the emergence of trust and cooperativeness in both large and small populations. Especially, in small populations, reflecting earlier hunter-gatherers communities, relative to our contemporary community sizes, the model is robust to the cognitive costs in adopting fictions.



Jun 14, 2022


Complexity Science Hub Vienna
Josefstaedter Straße 39
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