series event

In-group bias in human cooperation: Field studies among Italian communities

Dr Adam Kenny, University of Oxford
Dr Adam Kenny, University of Oxford

Human cooperation is often biased. Across societies, people cooperate more with in-group members than with out-group members. Yet the precise effect of various factors – such as intergroup competition, group relationship, and shared identity – on the level of bias remains unclear. In this talk, Dr Adam Kenny will present a series of field studies that investigated these factors among the contrade of Siena, 17 communities that divide the Italian city. 

The first study compared in-group and out-group cooperation during a period of low competition vs. high competition, while the second study explored whether a shared identity, induced by a common enemy, could encourage out-group cooperation. Overall, cooperation was affected by the relationship between groups, but not by the level of competition and attempts to induce a shared identity. The findings will be discussed in light of the ethnographic background to Siena, the literature on in-group bias, and planned studies. 


Adam Kenny is currently a Research Associate at the Calleva Research Centre for Evolution and Human Sciences, Magdalen College, Oxford, having recently earned his DPhil in Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He is interested in human inter-group dynamics, with a focus on the effects of group identity on cooperation as measured through field experiments. His doctoral thesis involved extensive fieldwork with the contrada neighbourhoods of Siena, Italy. He also has an avid interest in open research practices.


Dr Anushé Hassan 

Co-hosted by 

Professor Rebecca Sear 

Please note that this session will not be recorded


Follow webinar link. Free and open to all. No registration required.