ProSocial World

ProSocial World

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 from different disciplines, combining robust bodies of research from evolutionary theory, applied behavioral science and social science. 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 World get started?

ProSocial World was originally inspired by the work of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist who studied the commons. She collaborated with evolutionary scientist David Sloan Wilson who is a pioneer in modern evolutionary theory based on cultural evolution. David then began collaborating with contextual behavioral scientists Steven Hayes and Paul Atkins that have developed process that fosters psychological flexibility. ProSocial is an evolutionary framework that provides a playbook for cooperation. ProSocial World was co-founded by David Sloan Wilson, Paul Atkins and Jeff Genung and formed as a 501c3 non-profit in 2020.

What is the scientific foundation of 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 that facilitates cooperation?

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.