Andres Munoz, a doctoral student in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology, studies cooperation from an evolutionary perspective and what happens when it breaks down.
In the past, most researchers studying cooperation from an evolutionary perspective have focused on rules like reciprocity, where individuals pay each other back for helping each other. What Munoz is looking at is different: He is examining other rules for cooperation that are based on the need of the recipient rather than based on the expectation of being repaid.
His focus is specifically on “cheater detection,” or how people know when individuals deviate from social rules in pursuit of a personal benefit at a cost to someone else. In particular, he is interested in the cognitive mechanisms that allow people to detect stinginess and greediness.