Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.
- David Sloan Wilson
What is PROSOCIAL?
PROSOCIAL is a practical method for helping members of groups work better together. It was developed by scientists, combining robust bodies of research from evolutionary theory, economics and political science, and the applied behavioral sciences. The word “prosocial” refers to anything—such as an attitude, belief, behavior, or institution—that is oriented toward the welfare of others or society as a whole. It includes but goes beyond the word “altruism”, which implies that helping others requires a degree of self-sacrifice.
How did PROSOCIAL get started?
PROSOCIAL was originally inspired by the work of Elinor Ostrom, a Nobel laureate and political scientist who studied groups that attempt to manage resources such as fields, forests, fisheries, and water for irrigation. PROSOCIAL developed with the vision and leadership of David Sloan Wilson and a team of outstanding scientists, researchers and scholars under the auspices of the Evolution Institute, a 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to understanding and improving the human condition from an evolutionary perspective. PROSOCIAL is more firmly grounded in scientific theory and research than almost any other practical change method—so much that PROSOCIAL groups become partners in the ongoing research.
What is the scientific framework behind PROSOCIAL?
PROSOCIAL is informed by three areas of science. 1) Core Design Principles are used for effective, sustainable groups based on Elinor Ostrom's Nobel prize-winning research 2) Evolutionary theory of multilevel selection is used to study prosocial behavior. 3) Contextual Behavioral Science is used to integrate practical and effective methods for positive behavior change.
What is the core framework for this method?
PROSOCIAL follows a three-part methodology. 1) Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT). This includes mindfulness in daily life practices to help develop the psychological flexibility to move towards what really matters to you. 2) Core Design Principles are used to facilitate better cooperation and coordination of group actions. 3) Short-term measurable goals are used to create an actionable plan that will take the group where it needs to go next.