Nichola Raihani is a Professor of Evolution and Behaviour and a Royal Society University Research Fellow, based in the Department of Experimental Psychology at University College London. Nichola works at the interface between evolutionary biology, psychology and economics.
Her research addresses a question of fundamental importance: how does cooperation thrive when individuals are tempted to cheat? Initially, trained as a field biologist at the University of Cambridge, she has studied cooperation in several non-human species, including pied babblers (in the Kalahari Desert), Damaraland mole-rats (South Africa) and the mutualism between cleaner fish and their reef-fish clients (Great Barrier Reef). This perspective has provided a deep understanding of how social behaviour evolves, which has since been used to inform and refine her more current work on humans. Here, her work has explored when people cooperate and why, how mechanisms like punishment and reputation concern can promote cooperation and, more recently, how cooperation and other social behaviours are affected by variation in sub-clinical paranoia. Outside academia, Nichola works with several public and private sector companies, by providing behavioural insights to motivate effective behaviour change.