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Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups





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ISBN: 9781684030248
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$24.95In Stock
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About the Book

A groundbreaking, comprehensive program for designing effective and socially equitable groups of all sizes—from businesses and social justice groups to global organizations.

Whether you work in business or schools, volunteer in neighborhoods or church organizations, or are involved in social justice and activism, you understand the enormous power of groups to enact powerful and lasting change in the world. But how exactly do you design, build, and sustain effective groups?

Based on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom and grounded in contextual behavioral science, evolutionary science, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Prosocial presents a practical, step-by-step approach to help you energize and strengthen your business or organization. Using the Prosocial model, you’ll learn to design groups that are more harmonious, have better member or employee retention, have better relationships with other groups or business partners, and have more success and longevity.

Most importantly, you’ll learn to target the characteristics that foster cooperation and collaboration—key ingredients for any effective group.


Paul W.B. Atkins (Author)
Paul W.B. Atkins, PhD, is director of the Prosocial Institute, and senior research fellow with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University (ACU). His career has combined research and practice helping groups... Read more

Books by Paul W.B. Atkins

David Sloan Wilson, PhD, is president of The Evolution Institute, and SUNY distinguished professor of biology and anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity, in addition to the biological world.... Read more

Books by David Sloan Wilson

Steven C. Hayes (Author)
Steven C. Hayes, PhD, is Nevada Foundation Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has been president of numerous professional organizations, is author of forty-five books and nearly 650 scientific articles,... Read more

Books by Steven C. Hayes

Richard M Ryan (Foreword by)
Richard M. Ryan, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and codeveloper of self-determination theory (SDT), an internationally recognized leading theory of human motivation. He is professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at ACU.

Books by Richard M Ryan


“This book expanded my imagination about what is possible in groups of any form. This expansion came from the careful articulation of multidimensional, multi-evolutionary science and its union with functional behavioral science. The book provides a highly useful and operational approach for building and transforming groups to be more prosocial. This book is chock-full of clear steps on how to engage the prosocial process to increase prosociality in the world. The book is a welcome, practical, and well-documented guide for people interested in lifting up the capability and competence of a group to be more productive, equitable, and collaborative.”
Jane Dutton, PhD, professor emerita of business administration and psychology, and coauthor of Awakening Compassion at Work


“This groundbreaking book shows how evolutionary theory can be used to empower the success of small groups. It is a seamless integration of the processes of psychological flexibility, the science of organizational development and interpersonal trust, and Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize-winning ‘Core Design Principles’ for group cooperation. What results is a method that is both principle-based and highly flexible, and that speaks directly and practically to the role of coaches and consultants. This book is essential reading for anyone who works with people in group settings, and who is committed to helping these groups to be their best.”
Susan David, PhD, cofounder of the Institute of Coaching—a McLean/Harvard Medical School Affiliate; psychologist at Harvard Medical School; and author of Emotional Agility

“What do you get when you combine contemporary evolutionary theory, insights from a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and years of psychological research on behavior change? As it turns out, you get a practical and intuitively appealing set of steps for increasing care and cooperation amidst the twenty-first century’s soul-sapping and ecologically damaging selfishness. The approach developed by Atkins, Wilson, and Hayes shows real promise, and I hope many people adopt it.”
Tim Kasser, PhD, professor in the department of psychologyat Knox College in Galesburg, IL; and coauthor of Hypercapitalism


“A powerful, simple, but new perspective; part what to do, mostly how to do it, on the big question. It’s always been make-or-break for our species. Somehow, it’s looming ever larger: ‘How can I be for myself, but also for others and our world?’”
Nicholas Gruen, PhD, visiting professor at Kings College London Policy Institute, CEO of Lateral Economics, and author of the forthcoming The Public Goods of the 21st Century

Prosocial helps feuding individuals figure out their common purpose, and gives warring factions the means to cooperate. Anyone who has ever tried to solve a burning conflict within or between groups should read this book.”
Susan Pinker, psychologist, behavioral science columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and author of The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect

“One of the authors, David Sloan Wilson, has said that everyone needs to become ‘wise managers’ of their own cultural evolutionary process. This book is a great way to learn how to do this very thing. If you are looking for ways to achieve shared goals, work effectively in groups, or in any way make the world a better place, you are going to want to read this book. It is a deeply practical and insightful guide for individuals and the organizations they work for.”
Joe Brewer, executive director of the Center for Applied Cultural Evolution

“Evolutionary science has a lot to say about how we can create more effective, cooperative groups. So does the research of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, the great scholar of the commons. Blending these two rich streams, Atkins, Wilson, and Hayes provide powerful, practical guidance for anyone wishing to nourish prosocial behaviors—in education, business, civic action, athletics, and beyond. A concise, readable synthesis that practitioners and scholars alike will appreciate.”
David Bollier, coauthor of Free, Fair, and Alive

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