Here are few topics our lab is currently working on:
How do people think about their interdependence with others in a situation? Any interaction can be characterized by a specific form of interdependence, but most often the actors in those situations do not have direct, objective knowledge of the type of interdependence that characterizes the interaction. We have become increasingly interested in understanding how people infer their interdependence with others. This program of research has (a) involved developing a theory about the function and structure of interdependent inferences (Functional Interdependence Theory; FIT), (b) testing the structure of interdependence inferences, (c) testing cues people use to infer specific properties of interdependence, and (d) understanding the role of interdependence inferences in decisions to cooperate. In the process of our empirical work, we have also developed a multidimensional scale that measures how people think about of their interdependence (the Situational Interdependence Scale; SIS). This program of research is part of an ERC Starting Grant awarded to Daniel Balliet.
Indirect Reciprocity and Reputation Management. Humans are conditional cooperators who selectively cooperate in situations that can result in direct and indirect benefits. One problem for conditional cooperators is understanding when current cooperation can result in indirect benefits. Our lab has been testing hypotheses about how people manage their reputation in a social network to acquire indirect benefits. We are specifically interested in how properties of social networks (now and in the ancestral past) can be used to generate testable hypotheses about adaptations humans have to identity opportunities to cooperate and acquire (often unforeseen) indirect benefits in a social network (see Wu et al.)
Meta-Analytic Projects and Multi-Disciplinary Open Access Database. There is an extensive history in the social sciences to use a standardized experimental method to study human cooperation. Our lab is currently utilizing that history of research and applying meta-analysis to further understand why and how people cooperate. We are currently building a meta-analytic dataset that contains the entire history of laboratory research on cooperation. We will eventually establish an open access database that can be used by others to conduct their own meta-analyses. Our vision is that the database will form the foundation of a multi-disciplinary institution which will continually monitor and update the database with new research. This institution will empower researchers to conduct their own up-to-date meta-analyses on cooperation and to facilitate comparing their own study results with the history of research on cooperation. This database and institution is part of an ERC Starting Grant awarded to Daniel Balliet (additional information).
Cross-Societal Variation in Cooperation. Daniel Balliet and Angelo Romano are currently collaborating with James Liu and Toshio Yamagishi in a large-scale cross-societal study that will examine several issues about variation in trust, reciprocity, and cooperation across societies. Specifically, we are testing hypotheses about the role of reputation in promoting intergroup discrimination in cooperation across 17 countries.