Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Evolution and Cooperation

Competitive altruism (2007)

Van Vugt, M., Roberts, G., & Hardy, C. (2007). Competitive altruism: Development of reputation-based cooperation in groups. In R. Dunbar & L. Barrett, Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  



This chapter advances a new theory of altruism, competitive altruism, which might account for the uniquely moral altruistic tendency of humans. The need to form coalitions with non-kin for dealing with internal and external group threats created selective advantages for people with altruistic reputations. We present evidence from the anthropological, social psychological and nonhuman literatures, which by and large support competitive altruism theory. Finally, we discuss some implications of this theory for the establishment of reputation-based cooperation in modern human society.

Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt