David Rand
Born 1982
Berkeley, California
Residence USA
Nationality USA
Fields Psychology, Economics, Mathematical Biology, Cognitive Science, Management
Institutions Yale University
Alma mater Cornell University
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Martin Nowak
Other academic advisors Joshua Greene

David G. Rand is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Economics, Cognitive Science and Management at Yale University and director of Yale University's Human Cooperation Laboratory. His work combines (i) empirical observations from behavioral experiments with (ii) predictions generated by evolutionary game theoretic math models and computer simulations. He asks what prosocial and antisocial decisions people will make in particular situations and social environments; the cognitive mechanisms that determine how these decisions are actually made; and the ultimate explanations for why our decision-making processes have come to function as they do. He draws on methodologies from psychology, economics and evolutionary biology, and is interested in applications including law, management and public policy. [1] His work on promoting human cooperation has been featured on the front covers of both Nature and Science and reported widely in the media.


Rand earned his Ph.D., Harvard University in Systems Biology in 2009[2] and a B.A. from Cornell University summa cum laude in Computational Biology.

He also had an electro-punk musical project called Robot Goes Here, signed on Infidel Records.

In January 2012, Rand was named to Wired Magazine's Smart List 2012 as one of "50 people who will change the world"[3]

Rand selected as one of ten 2012 Pop!Tech Science Fellows, speaking at the annual PopTech conference in Camden Maine [4]


Rand's publications include:

  • Rand DG, Greene JD, Nowak MA (2012) Spontaneous giving and calculated greed. Nature, 489, 427–430. This work explored the cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperative behavior in public goods games and prisoner's dilemmas using a dual process framework. A series of 10 behavioral experiments showed that intuition supports cooperation, while reflection and deliberation lead to selfishness. The studies also provided evidence that this finding is the result of social heuristics developed in daily life where cooperation is advantageous due to factors like repetition, reputation and sanctions.[5]
  • Fudenberg Rand Dreber (2012) Slow to anger and fast to forgive: cooperation in an uncertain world. American economic review. This work showed, using behavioral experiments, that in repeated games where mistakes can occur, it is self-interested to be both lenient and forgiving.[6]
  • Beale Rand et al. (2011) Individual versus systemic risk and the Regulator's Dilemma. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 31 12647-12652. This work showed that policies which make each individual bank as safe as possible may not in fact minimize risk for the system as a whole, but instead regulators should seek to promote diverse diversification, where there is some degree of specialization across different financial entities.[7]
  • Rand Arbesman Christakis (2011) Dynamic networks promote cooperation in experiments with humans. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 108 19193-19198. This work experimentally validated the predictions of evolutionary game theory models suggesting that allowing people to make and break connections in their interaction network promotes cooperation: if you are selfish, then you will wind up alone.[8]
  • Shenhav Rand Greene (2011) Divine intuition: cognitive style and belief in God. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. This work showed that people who are more intuitive are stronger believers in God on average, while people who are more reflective are more likely to be atheists; and that priming people to make them trust their intuitions increases belief in God.[9]
  • Rand et al. (2009) Positive interactions promote public cooperation. Science 325, 1272-1275. This work showed that rewards are as effective as punishments for promoting group cooperation in repeated interactions, and lead to better overall outcomes. It was featured on the cover of Science and also reported in New Scientist,[10] MSN,[11] Forbes,[12] Discover Magazine and other media.
  • Rand et al. (2009) Dynamic remodeling of in-group bias during the 2008 presidential election. PNAS 106 6187-6191. This work showed that during the 2008 US presidential election, Obama and Clinton supports were more generous with supporters of their own preferred candidate, but that this bias disappeared following the DNC's symbolic emphasis on party unity. It was picked up by the Huffington Post.[13]
  • Dreber, Rand et al. (2008) Winners don't punish. Nature 452 348-351. This work showed that subjects who spitefully punished uncooperative partners did poorly, while successful players instead reciprocated un-cooperativeness with un-cooperativeness. It was featured on the cover of Nature and also reported in the Daily Telegraph,[14] New York Times Freakanomics,[15] Boston Globe and other media
  • Rand & Nowak (2009) How reputation could save the Earth. New Scientist 2734 28-29.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. David G Rand's Harvard website
  2. David G Rand CV at Harvard University
  10. Carrots are better than Sticks New Scientist 3-Sept-09
  11. Rewards and key to cooperation MSN 3-Sept-09
  12. Rewards and key to cooperation Forbes 3-Sept-09
  13. Study Finds Bias in 2008 Campaign -- Among Men Only Huffington Post 30-Mar-09
  14. Those who Resort to Punishment are Losers Daily Telegraph 19 Mar 2008
  15. Freakanomics blog in New York Times 21-Mar-08

External linksEdit

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