Angelo Romano

IMG_2972 copia 2In many situations individuals often pay a per-
sonal cost to help others. I am interested in
understanding the psychological processes that
produce these costly helping behaviors. To do
so, I apply theory and methods from economi-
cs, evolutionary biology, and social psychology.
I joined the Amsterdam cooperation lab in
April 2015, where I work with Daniel Balliet
on several exciting projects, such as the relation between ingroup favoritism and reputation-based cooperation, the role of conformity and reciprocity in promoting
cooperation, and the study of multinational differences in intergroup discrimination in trust and cooperation. During my PhD, I also had the opportunity to further develop my mathematical background applying agent-based modeling techniques and social network analysis. I applied these tools to study how minority opinions can be diffused in populations and to the analysis of food supply chains.



Is reputation bounded by group membership?  (with Daniel Balliet and Junhui Wu)

In this project, I focus on how humans condition their cooperation according to cues of reputation that represent systems of indirect reciprocity. The goal of the project is to broaden the reputation-based cooperation beyond the groups and test some hypotheses about how individual can acquire these indirect benefits. We are conducting a set of studies aimed at (1) comparing some core psychological mechanisms provided by the main theories on intergroup cooperation; (2) investigating how reputation cues can promote cooperation in intergroup contexts.

Reciprocity vs conformity in promoting cooperation (with Daniel Balliet)

Evolutionary psychologists have proposed two processes that could give rise to the pervasive amounts of human cooperation observed among non-genetically related individuals: reciprocity and conformity. From one hand, according to many evolutionary psychologists cooperation evolved mainly from small scale and dyadic interactions. By contrast, according to gene-culture coevolution approach, these processes are not sufficient to maintain cooperation in large societies and individuals evolved adaptations to conform with group norms (tribal social instinct hypothesis). I am planning a set of studies with the aim to examine if the psychological mechanisms of reciprocity outperform social learning in promoting cooperation, especially in a situation when these mechanisms would promote a different (non)cooperative response.

Cooperation in traffic networks (with Ugo Merlone and Cristina Mosso – University of Torino)

In this study, I applied some social psychological hypotheses on a paradigm that is commonly used in experimental economics and transportation science, the Braess paradox. The Braess paradox is the counterintuitive phenomenon in which adding a link in a network increases the traffic rather than decreasing it. The Braess paradox is a very binding social dilemma and cooperation is very difficult to reach. The goal of the project was to understand the role of payoff information and conformity in improving network performance. For this purpose, we considered the manipulation of others’ choice, public and private monitoring and information on distribution of choices.


I am also collaborating in other projects such as the study of cross-societal variation in cooperation (with Daniel Balliet, Toshio Yamagishi and James Liu), and the effect of different strategies on opinion diffusion in social networks (with Ugo Merlone).



  • Romano, A., & Balliet, D. (in press). Reciprocity outperforms conformity to promote cooperation. Psychological Science.
  • Romano, A., Balliet, D., & Wu, J. (2017). Unbounded Indirect Reciprocity: Is
    Reputation-Based Cooperation Bounded by Group Membership? Journal of
    Experimental Social Psychology, 71, 59-67. PDF
  • Romano A., Mosso, C.O., and Merlone U. (2016). The Role of Incomplete Information and Others’ Choice in Reducing Traffic: a Pilot Study. Frontiers in Psychology7,135. PDF
  • Romano A., Merlone U., Mosso C. & Spadaro G. (2016). On the role of group size in social dilemmas. Psicologia Sociale, 1-13.
  • Scaffidi Abbate, C., Boca, S., Spadaro, G., & Romano, A. (2014). Priming Effects on Commitment to Help and on Real Helping Behavior. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 36(4), 347-355. PDF



You can download my CV here

ResearchGate profile

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