Psychology Colloquium

Departmental Event

Start Date: Mar 24, 2023 - 09:00am
End Date: Mar 24, 2023 - 10:00am

Location: Logan Hall, room 125, and via zoom

Dr. Athena Aktpips, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Cooperation Initiative at Arizona State University, will present Cooperation in times of crisis: Lessons from small-scale societies about how to manage catastrophic risk and survive the apocalypse.


Humans have had to grapple with challenges including infectious diseases, famines, environmental changes, wars, and other sources of catastrophic risk throughout our evolutionary history as a species. Managing these risks effectively requires strategies including risk retention, risk avoidance, risk reduction and risk transfer. Risk transfer (also called risk sharing) is the only risk management strategy which is obligately social, requiring formal or informal relationships among actors to take on a portion of each other’s risk, essentially insuring one another. In this talk, I will discuss risk sharing and resource sharing across the societies that we study in The Human Generosity Project, drawing from fieldwork, computational modeling and laboratory experiments to understand the structure and function of risk sharing arrangements in small-scale societies. Scaling up social risk sharing for dealing with the massive, wicked, and multidimensional problems of today will require creative solutions, broad interdisciplinary cooperation, and an appreciation of the fundamental interdependence that underlies our collective futures.


Athena Aktipis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Cooperation Initiative at Arizona State University. She is also the co-Director of The Cooperation Science Network and The Human Generosity Project. Athena studies cooperation across systems from human sharing to cancer.  She is the founder of Zombified Media; host of the podcast, Zombified, and author of the book from Princeton University Press, The Cheating Cell: How evolution helps us understand and treat cancer. When COVID-19 was on the verge of becoming a pandemic, she started the Cooperation in the Apocalypse project to better understand how crises affect cooperation, interdependence and other social behaviors. She is passionate about building interdisciplinary teams to tackle tough questions, empowering students to learn about the topics they are most curious about, and leveraging cooperation theory to improve our universities and the broader communities in which we are all embedded.

Zoom link information:

Password: 123456