Jennifer McClung

The cognitive basis of cooperation

My research has focused on the interaction between cognition and social
factors in humans. I aim to understand the cognition that underlies social
phenomena such as out-group bias and cooperation. This research employs
a variety of techniques, from experimental paradigms to questionnaire
methodologies and computer-based joint action tasks.
Specifically, my research has shown that group membership impacts such
capacities as theory of mind, representation of intention, and social learning
in adults.  Strikingly, my research has shown that people fail to mentally
represent others during joint action who have been randomly categorised as
‘out-group’ members, and further that they assign less mental-state attributes
to such out-groupers.

My current research as part of an SNF-funded post-doctoral position looks
at the cognitive capacities that both facilitate and hinder cooperation. 
Using paradigms modelled on economic games, I aim to study the interaction
between social factors such as group membership and cognitive capacities
such as theory of mind in relation to potentially cooperative situations.  I am
also interested in the impact different cooperative strategies may have on
levels of the paramount ‘social’ hormones, oxytocin and arginine vasopressin. 
One aspect of this current project will look at the effect different behavioural
strategies have on naturally occurring hormonal levels.



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1-Roberts, Gosling, Thornton, & McClung (2001) ‘Scent marking by male mice under the risk of predation’. Behavioral Ecology 12(6) 698 – 705. doi: 10.1093/beheco/12.6.698

2- McClung, Jentzsch, & Reicher (2013) ‘Group Membership Affects Spontaneous Mental Representation: Failure to Represent the Out-Group in a Joint Action Task' PLoS ONE,  8(11).  doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079178 
3-McClung & Reicher (in prep) ‘Social learning with any model: Categorisation affects only processes involving representation of intention’



Jennifer McClung



Université de Neuchâtel
Laboratoire d'éco-ethologie
Institut de Biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel


Tel: 0041-32-7183128

room D127

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