The tripod effect: Evolutionary perspectives on cooperation, cognition and communication

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This article concerns the co-evolution of hominin cooperation, communication and cognition. Certain hominin
ecologies seem to have relied on cognitive foresight. The capacity of planning for future needs, combined with more
developed cooperative skills, opened up the cognitive niche of cooperation towards future goals. Such cooperation
requires complex intersubjectivity. We analyze five domains of intersubjectivity: emotion, desire,
attention, intention, and belief; and argue that cooperation towards future goals requires, among other things, joint
intentions (we-intentions). We scrutinize the cognitive and communicative conditions for reciprocal altruism, found
in some species; and indirect reciprocity, a form of cooperation typical in the hominin line.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew perspectives on the symbolic species
EditorsF Stjernfeldt, T Deacon, T Schilhab
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-2336-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
  • Zoology
  • Learning
  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • cognitive foresight
  • hominin evolution
  • intersubjectivity
  • cooperation
  • joint intention
  • reciprocal altruism


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