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William O'Hearn
Masters Student in Psychology


My broad interests are in the adaptive benefits of cooperation and the evolutionary root of sociality in the animal kingdom. A broad range of taxa including fish, birds, insects, and mammals live in social groups and engage in complex social behavior. They live in these groups despite the many costs of group living such as increased competition for food, territory, and mates. I am interested in why different social structures are adaptive and how the individuals that make up these groups use behavioral strategies to navigate their social environments. 

My current research explores the types of reciprocal cooperative strategies used by free living rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Using an experimental design which simulates conflicts involving specific group mates, we investigate how recent social interactions affect the allocation of social attention in adult female rhesus macaques. Do these females use a direct reciprocity strategy, where they help those who have helped them? Or do they use a generalized reciprocal strategy, helping only after they are helped themselves?

Broad research specialisms

Behavioral Ecology, Cooperation, Animal Behavior, Social Behavior


2011-2015 BSC Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut

Contact details

Tel+44 (0) 7557656337
AddressWashington Singer Laboratories
University of Exeter
Perry Road
Prince of Wales Road
OfficeCrab lab

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