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Title: City life and cooperative behaviour in humans
Author: Zwirner, Elena
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 2368
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Human cooperative tendency is extraordinary. Humans extensively cooperate with genetically unrelated individuals on an unprecedented scale. The focus of much previous research has been to explain how particular cooperative investments fit evolutionary theory; nevertheless new attention has been drawn to the remarkable variation in human cooperation depending on the environmental context. In particular, cities are frequently associated with reduced pro-social tendency. Fast-paced urbanisation is currently a major cause of demographic change, meaning that it is fundamental to understand how it affects human social behaviour. In this thesis, I present experimental evidence on the effects of city living on cooperation from standard economic games and from large-scale real-world measures. Chapter 3 describes the effects of urban residence on generosity in a dictator game and on two self-report measures of pro-social behaviours. City-living was not associated with self-reported reduction in generosity and did not predict reduced donations in the dictator game nor self-report scales. In Chapter 4, I used a trust game to test the idea that lower pro- sociality in cities may be underpinned by lower trust levels. I found that city-dwellers were less trusting than town-dwellers, but they were not less trustworthy. Finally, in Chapter 5 I present results from a set of real-world experiments. I tested whether city- dwellers were less pro-social than town-dwellers across four different forms of helping, and whether urban-rural variation in pro-sociality was explained by diffusion of responsibility or by perceived anonymity. I show that socio-economic factors, rather than urbanicity per se, play an important role in shaping cooperative tendency.
Supervisor: Raihani, N. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available