If you’re an optimist, you probably believe that humanity is inherently cooperative and willing to sacrifice for the greater good of all. If you’re a pessimist, chances are you believe that, in the end, people will always do what is in their own interests.
But if you’re Martin Nowak, you believe that the truth is: It’s a matter of context.
A professor of mathematics and of biology and director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Nowak is the senior author of a new study that finds, across repeated interactions, the environment that individuals find themselves in can affect whether they act as partners or rivals. The study is described in a recently published paper in the journal Nature Human Behavior.