Hanne van der Iest

Cohort: 2012


  • MA, Anthropology, Emory University
  • MS, Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology , University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • BS, Sociology, University of Groningen, Netherlands


I am broadly interested in the interplay between our social and physical environment and our prosocial behaviors (e.g. generosity, altruism, cooperation) and moral tendencies (e.g., integrity, trustworthiness).  

As we humans are fundamentally social and live our lives in the context of groups and communities, consequences might flow from our contribution to common goods, our willingness to share resources and knowledge, and from how these contributions are perceived by others.

The smaller and more isolated a community, the more its members will have to rely on one another in the provision of knowledge, skills, and resources. Prosociality might therefore be of higher salience in such environments. Should prosocial behavior and others’ perception thereof have consequences, these may be augmented in the small community context.

In my doctoral research, I will therefore focus on prosociality and prosocial perceptions in a small island community: under which circumstances does cooperation occur, what are the conditions that need to be fulfilled and how does this affect people’s lives? As information flow in social networks may be key to understanding prosocial perception dynamics, I aim to collect longitudinal full network data in one or several relatively isolated communities. Specifically, I’m hoping to conduct my fieldwork on the Shetland and Orkney archipelagos, located right above Scotland, UK.