Cognitive building blocks of cooperation

Cooperation is an exciting part of social behavior, and animals reciprocating or taking turns cooperation has garnered a lot of attention. However, we do not have a good grasp on the decision processes that animals use when cooperating. Tit-for-tat provides on model of a cooperative decision process that copies a partner's previous cooperation. Though tit-for-tat and other models of reciprocity sound quite simple, few researchers have carefully outlined the cognitive building blocks needed to implement these decision rules (Stevens & Hauser, 2004, Stevens et al., 2005). My colleagues are exploring how cognitive building blocks such as patience (Stephens et al., 2002) and memory (Stevens et al., 2011b, Volstorf et al., 2011) play a role in cooperative strategies.