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. We have also used game theory to model how cognition (memory) interactions with the social environment to influence the evolution of cooperation (Stevens et al., 2018). Finally, we have also explored physiological influences on cooperation by demonstrating the effect of mesotocin (the avian form of oxytocin) on prosocial behavior in pinyon jays (Duque et al., 2018)