Dan Řezníček defended his dissertation thesis

Violent intergroup conflicts are often believed to be driven by dominant leaders who coerce others to behave aggressively against the enemy. However, there may be other evolutionary mechanisms at play that relate to aggression, cultural learning, and human cooperative and coalitionary psychology, which can contribute to such developments. Dan argues that prestige bias and credibility enhancing displays are motivational pathways to intergroup aggression via admiration, thus sidestepping social coercion.

3 Jul 2023

Dan Reznicek defending

While the conventional thinking on leadership during intergroup conflicts focuses on dominant individuals (who coerce others into aggressive behaviors) and on their necessity in moments of crises (as only their decisiveness supposedly achieves what is needed for the good of the group), such approaches leave out other ways that are open for the ultra-social human species. Guided by the evolutionary theories of aggression, cultural learning, and human cooperative and coalitionary psychology, Dan tested the role of prestige bias and credibility enhancing displays as pathways that motivate intergroup aggression via admiration, sidestepping the pathway of social coercion. In four empirical studies using laboratory and natural experiments, he shows that when arising intergroup hostilities create the demand for aggressive action against an enemy group, human psychology reroutes the perception of parochial aggression from dominant to prestigious, inspiring voluntary participation in intergroup aggression. Furthermore, Dan demonstrates that costly signaling within collective rituals and the belief in moralizing gods influence the reputation of parochial aggressors, supporting the within-group transmission of intergroup aggression.

You can find the full thesis here:


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