In a room full of strangers, how long would you spend interacting with an unkind person? Knowing that most others in the room were also unkind, would that affect your answer? Research using economic games has focused on how people make decisions during social interactions, highlighting that people are ‘irrationally’ sensitive to fairness, willing to forego money to punish unfair people. In the real world we may simply choose to ‘leave’ unfair people rather than punish them, and find someone else to interact with.
This project aims to investigate whether we have evolved to treat social concepts such as fairness and cooperation as valued resources. Using computational methods from behavioural ecology, we will examine how people choose to explore their social environment for cooperative social interactions.