Associate Professor of Psychology, Economics, Cognitive Science and Management, Yale University

David’s research focuses on human cooperative behavior. Cooperation is an essential aspect of life, from bacterial bio-films to social insects, and from friendships and workplace collaborations to environmental conservation, political participation, and international relations. Yet cooperation is often individually costly. So why are people (usually) willing to incur these costs, and what can we do to promote cooperation in the world around us? David works together with the other researchers in Yale University’s Human Cooperation Laboratory to answer these questions. He takes into account interactions across different scales, and integrating approaches from numerous disciplines. He asks (1) what prosocial and antisocial decisions people will make in particular situations and social environments, (2) the cognitive mechanisms that determine how these decisions are actually made (often looking at conflicts between intuition and deliberation), and (3) the ultimate explanations for why our decision-making processes have come to function as they do (in terms of evolution, cultural, and learning). In doing so, David combines empirical observations from behavioral experiments with predictions generated by math models and computer simulations using evolutionary game theory. He draws on approaches from psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology, and addresses a range of applications including public policy, management, and law. For an overview of David’s research, watch his 5 minute Pop!Tech talk, or read his 2013 review article “Human Cooperation”.

Experience

  • –present
    Assistant Professor of Psychology, Economics, Cognitive Science and Management, Yale University