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Jennifer Larson

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Research Interests: My research studies how social networks help groups cooperate.  My work centers around the claim that gossip and peer pressure can support cooperation in a wide range of settings.  Social networks facilitate this process, some more successfully than others.  This suggests that the development of certain social networks and a proclivity to gossip would be advantageous in evolutionary settings with high group selection.  My research explores these ideas with a combination of game theoretic models that identify exactly how and why social networks relate to cooperation, and empirical work that seeks to uncover how modern human groups use social networks to accomplish cooperative ends such as protesting, producing public goods, enforcing norms, and so on.  

Keywords: Social networks, cooperation, gossip, peer enforcement, self-governance, norms