Sustaining the commons

Two new research articles show how a better understanding of human behaviour can help avert the tragedy of the commons. 

Latest Research

  • Perspective |

    Friederici et al. outline a view of the neural organization of language that is compatible with a description of language as a biologically determined computational mechanism that yields an infinite number of hierarchically structured expressions.

    • Angela D. Friederici
    • , Noam Chomsky
    • , Robert C. Berwick
    • , Andrea Moro
    •  & Johan J. Bolhuis
  • Article |

    A mega-analysis of whole-genome data from seven populations demonstrates substantial hidden heritability for educational attainment and reproductive behaviour, highlighting the importance of sample-specific gene–environment interaction in complex traits.

    • Felix C. Tropf
    • , S. Hong Lee
    • , Renske M. Verweij
    • , Gert Stulp
    • , Peter J. van der Most
    • , Ronald de Vlaming
    • , Andrew Bakshi
    • , Daniel A. Briley
    • , Charles Rahal
    • , Robert Hellpap
    • , Anastasia N. Iliadou
    • , Tõnu Esko
    • , Andres Metspalu
    • , Sarah E. Medland
    • , Nicholas G. Martin
    • , Nicola Barban
    • , Harold Snieder
    • , Matthew R. Robinson
    •  & Melinda C. Mills
  • Letter |

    There are striking similarities among creole languages. Blasi et al. show that these similarities can in fact be explained by the same processes as for non-creole languages, the difference being that creoles have more than one language in their ancestry.

    • Damián E. Blasi
    • , Susanne Maria Michaelis
    •  & Martin Haspelmath
  • Article |

    Brummitt et al. show how supply-chain disruptions can spread contagiously throughout an economy. Adaptations to frequent disruptions can lead to the emergence of a poverty trap. Implications for ‘big push’ economic development policies are discussed.

    • Charles D. Brummitt
    • , Kenan Huremović
    • , Paolo Pin
    • , Matthew H. Bonds
    •  & Fernando Vega-Redondo
  • Article |

    The study by Gómez et al. of frontline fighters and non-combatants shows that a willingness to fight and die in intergroup conflict is associated with the sacrifice of material concerns for sacred values, and the perceived spiritual strength of in-groups and adversaries.

    • Ángel Gómez
    • , Lucía López-Rodríguez
    • , Hammad Sheikh
    • , Jeremy Ginges
    • , Lydia Wilson
    • , Hoshang Waziri
    • , Alexandra Vázquez
    • , Richard Davis
    •  & Scott Atran
  • Article |

    Momennejad et al. formulate and provide evidence for the successor representation, a computational learning mechanism intermediate between the two dominant models (a fast but inflexible ‘model-free’ system and a flexible but slow ‘model-based’ one).

    • I. Momennejad
    • , E. M. Russek
    • , J. H. Cheong
    • , M. M. Botvinick
    • , N. D. Daw
    •  & S. J. Gershman

News & Comment

  • Comment |

    Introduction of genetic evidence of a predisposition to violent or impulsive behaviour is on the rise in criminal trials. However, a panoply of data suggests that such evidence is ineffective at reducing judgements of culpability and punishment, and therefore its use in the legal process is likely to diminish.

    • Nicholas Scurich
    •  & Paul S. Appelbaum
  • Comment |

    Moral outrage is an ancient emotion that is now widespread on digital media and online social networks. How might these new technologies change the expression of moral outrage and its social consequences?

    • M. J. Crockett
  • Comment |

    Plastic pollution is caused exclusively by humans. It poses growing global threats to both the ocean and society, and requires urgent action. Using psychological principles can motivate and implement change by connecting symptoms and sources.

    • Sabine Pahl
    • , Kayleigh J. Wyles
    •  & Richard C. Thompson
  • Comment |

    Advances in technology and the advent of social media have led to the emergence of a new phenomenon — cyberbullying. Although there are some similarities, approaches to tackling traditional bullying are largely ineffective in combating cyberbullying, which has been linked to adverse mental health and, in extreme cases, suicide.

    • Jean-Baptiste Pingault
    •  & Tabea Schoeler

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