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 |

    Consistent failure over the past few decades to reduce the high prevalence of stress-related disorders has motivated a search for alternative research strategies. Resilience refers to the phenomenon of many people maintaining mental health despite exposure to psychological or physical adversity. Instead of aiming to understand the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders, resilience research focuses on protective mechanisms that shield people against the development of such disorders and tries to exploit its insights to improve treatment and, in particular, disease prevention. To fully harness the potential of resilience research, a critical appraisal of the current state of the art — in terms of basic concepts and key methods — is needed. We highlight challenges to resilience research and make concrete conceptual and methodological proposals to improve resilience research. Most importantly, we propose to focus research on the dynamic processes of successful adaptation to stressors in prospective longitudinal studies.

    • Raffael Kalisch
    • , Dewleen G. Baker
    • , Ulrike Basten
    • , Marco P. Boks
    • , George A. Bonanno
    • , Eddie Brummelman
    • , Andrea Chmitorz
    • , Guillén Fernàndez
    • , Christian J. Fiebach
    • , Isaac Galatzer-Levy
    • , Elbert Geuze
    • , Sergiu Groppa
    • , Isabella Helmreich
    • , Talma Hendler
    • , Erno J. Hermans
    • , Tanja Jovanovic
    • , Thomas Kubiak
    • , Klaus Lieb
    • , Beat Lutz
    • , Marianne B. Müller
    • , Ryan J. Murray
    • , Caroline M. Nievergelt
    • , Andreas Reif
    • , Karin Roelofs
    • , Bart P. F. Rutten
    • , David Sander
    • , Anita Schick
    • , Oliver Tüscher
    • , Ilse Van Diest
    • , Anne-Laura van Harmelen
    • , Ilya M. Veer
    • , Eric Vermetten
    • , Christiaan H. Vinkers
    • , Tor D. Wager
    • , Henrik Walter
    • , Michèle Wessa
    • , Michael Wibral
    •  & Birgit Kleim
  • Article |

    Women often behave more prosocially than men. Soutschek et al. use pharmacology and neuroimaging to show that the neural reward system appears to be more sensitive to prosocial rewards in women than men, providing a neurobiological account for this gender difference.

    • Alexander Soutschek
    • , Christopher J. Burke
    • , Anjali Raja Beharelle
    • , Robert Schreiber
    • , Susanna C. Weber
    • , Iliana I. Karipidis
    • , Jolien ten Velden
    • , Bernd Weber
    • , Helene Haker
    • , Tobias Kalenscher
    •  & Philippe N. Tobler
  • Letter |

    Cao et al. demonstrate that people systematically rely on social base rates when making judgements about individuals, even when these base rates are statistically irrelevant. The authors show that multiple remedies are required to eliminate this bias of base rate intrusion.

    • Jack Cao
    • , Max Kleiman-Weiner
    •  & Mahzarin R. Banaji

News & Comment

  • Comment |

    Mental health technologies, such as apps, clinical texting, social media platforms and web-based tools, have arrived. Channelling these resources to help people with serious mental illnesses, clinicians in need of support, and people in low-and middle-income countries will have the most impact on the global burden of mental illness.

    • Dror Ben-Zeev
    •  & David C. Atkins
  • Editorial |

    A paper in this issue identifies a persistent influence of irrelevant information in social contexts, which results in biased and unfair judgements. These widespread social biases can be insidious as they inadvertently enter research and policy.

  • News and Views |

    In the United States, direct-to-consumer advertisements for medications must disclose each specific side-effect risk. A new study demonstrates a counterintuitive dilution effect: people perceive drug descriptions that include both serious and trivial side effects as less risky than descriptions that only list serious side effects.

    • Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher