An interdisciplinary approach
My work focuses on the evolutionary and psychological mechanisms underlying human cooperation and our behavioural immunity. I expanded my initial approach based on behavioural ecology by developing research programs including approaches from behavioural economics and psychology. My research on cooperation has covered topics such as the influence of sexual selection on the evolution of cooperation, the existence of phenotypic cues of cooperativeness (facial, vocal or olfactory) and the role of hormones on cooperative behavior. I have also expanded the scope of my research to include cross-species comparison by testing the influence of cooperativeness on mate choice in two other social species, the mound-building mouse and sociable weavers. My new research project investigates the existence of phenotypic cues of disease and their influence on interpersonal decision-making, in particular on behavioural avoidance.
I am currently a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden)
I study three social species: humans, the mound building mouse & the sociable weavers.
I use different methods to measure behaviours ranging from economic games in humans to observations in the field or in captivity in other social species.
2009 - present
I work in three different populations: France, Sweden & Senegal. In these populations I mainly use economic games (e.g. public goods game, dictator game, Trust game) to measure individual cooperativeness.
2014 - 2018
This bird endemic to southern Africa is known for its massive nests built communally and for the existence of helpers who forgo their own reproduction to assist other birds with rearing offspring. I use helpers' allofeeding rate as a measure of cooperativeness.
Mound building mouse
This eastern European mouse exhibits an amazing cooperative behavior: in autumn groups of several mice build mounds by the accumulation of plant materials covered with earth. I used wild mice captured in Bulgaria and measured their investment in cooperative mound building in captivity.
My research projects revolve around three questions
Is cooperation sexually selected?
Does the presence of potential mates increase cooperativeness?
Are cooperative individuals preferred as mates?
In humans, my research shows that the presence of a woman (i) increases cooperativeness of both French and Senegalese men, (ii) most likely by triggering their competitiveness to be the most cooperative man in the group (competitive helping) and (iii) that cooperation is a mate choice criterion. In order to understand how the presence of women increases cooperativeness in men, I examined the role of sexual hormones as a potential proximate mechanism. Despite growing evidence supporting the hypothesis that human cooperation is sexually selected, few empirical studies have been conducted in other social species. My projects attempt to fill in this gap. In the mound-building mouse, females seem to prefer the most cooperative males (i.e. males who invest more in mound building). In the sociable weaver, I am investigating whether helpers increase their cooperativeness (i.e. allofeeding behavior) when potential mates are around using play-back experiments simulating the presence of females or males in the colony.
How is cooperativeness detected?
Looking for the cues of cooperativeness
Face, voice & odour
Previous studies suggest that cooperative individuals are preferentially chosen as social or sexual partners leading to assortment based on cooperativeness. One of the prerequisite of this assortment is therefore that one able to detect individual's cooperativeness, but how? Cooperativeness could be detected based on reputation and past cooperative behaviors. But it seems that phenotypic cues could also be used. For example, my research has shown that cooperativeness is readable in static facial features, some of these traits being inter-culturally readable. Some studies showed that dynamic facial traits, such as emotional expressivity, could also be used as cues of cooperativeness. I am currently testing whether some of these dynamic facial traits are also inter-culturally readable. I am also conducting a project testing whether other phenotypic traits such as voice or odor could be used as cues of cooperativeness.
Behavioural Immune System
Can we detect sickness cues in others?
Do we avoid sick conspecifics?
Behavioral avoidance of sick conspecifics is the first, and probably most cost effective, line of defense against infection. Although avoidance behavior of sick conspecifics has been well established in animal models, the influence of sickness cues on avoidance was poorly investigated so far in humans. My current projects attempt to fill this gap. I examine whether body odours and facial traits could be used as early cues of sickness and whether and how their perception influence behavioral avoidance.
Bovet, J., Tognetti, A. & Pollet, T. Methodological issues when using face prototypes: A case study on the Faceaurus dataset. Accepted in Evolutionary Human Sciences.
Tognetti, A., Durand, V., Dubois, D., Barkat-Defradas, M., Hopfensitz, A., & Ferdenzi, C. The smell of cooperativeness: Do human body odours advertise cooperative behaviours? (2022). British Journal of Psychology, 113, 531–546. doi:10.1111/bjop.12544
Ohla K., Veldhuizen, M. G., Green, T., Hannum, M.E., Bakke, A.J., Moein, S., Tognetti, A., et al. (2022). Increasing incidence of parosmia and phantosmia in patients recovering from COVID-19 smell loss. Rhinology. doi:10.4193/Rhin21.415.
Covas, R., Lardy S., Rey, B., Silva, L., Theron, F., Ferreira, A., Tognetti, A., Faivre, B. & Doutrelant, C. The oxydative cost of helping and its minimization in a cooperative breeder. (2022). Behavioral Ecology, 33, 504-517. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arab152.
Tognetti, A., Doat, D., Dubois, D. & Romaniuc, R. (2021). The effect of physical disability on group cooperation: Experimental evidence. Bull Econ Res. 2021;1−9. https://doi.org/10.1111/boer.12290
Tognetti, A., Sarolidou, G., Lasselin, J., Lekander, M., Olsson, M.J & Lundström, J.N. (2021). Acute systemic experimental inflammation does not reduce olfactory performance. Chemical Senses. https://doi.org/10.109
Sarolidou, G., Tognetti, A., Lasselin, J., Regenbogen, C., Lundström, J. N., Kimball, B., ... & Olsson, M. J. (2020). Olfactory Communication of Sickness Cues in Respiratory Infection. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1004.
Tognetti, A./Suire, A., Durand, V., Raymond M. & Barkat-Defradas, M. 2020. Speech Acoustic Features: A Comparison of Gay Men, Heterosexual Men, and Heterosexual Women – Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(7): 2575-2583. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01665-3
Tognetti, A., Durand, V., Barkat-Defradas, M. & Hopfensitz, A. 2020. Does he sound cooperative? Acoustic correlates of cooperativeness. British Journal of Psychology, 111: 823-839. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12437
Tognetti, A., Raymond, M., Ganem, G. & Faurie, C. 2018. Female mound-building mice prefer males that invest more in building behavior, even when this behavior is not observed –Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72:155.
Tognetti, A., Faurie, C., Yamagata-Nakashima, N. & Oda, R. 2018. Are non-verbal cues of altruism cross-culturally readable? Personality and Individual Differences, 127: 139-143.
Tognetti, A., Dubois, D., Faurie, C. & Willinger, M. 2016. Men increase contributions to a public good when under sexual competition. Scientific Reports,6:29819
Tognetti, A., Berticat, C., Raymond, M. & Faurie, C. 2014. Assortative mating based on cooperativeness and generosity. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27(5):975-81.
Tognetti, A., Berticat, C., Raymond, M. & Faurie, C. 2013. Is cooperativeness readable in static facial features? An inter-cultural approach. Evolution and Human Behaviour 34: 427-432.
Tognetti, A., Berticat, C., Raymond, M. & Faurie, C. 2012. Sexual selection of human cooperative behaviour: an experimental study in rural Senegal. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44403.
To know more
To read more about my collaborations and projects, please follow the links below
GDR - CNRS
Co-fondateur et membre du bureau du réseau RESHAPE (Réseau d’Etude de la Santé Humaine par des APproches Evolutives et historiques), né au début de l'année 2022, vise à mettre en relation les chercheurs et équipes travaillant sur la santé humaine avec une perspective historique et évolutionniste, notamment au travers de l'organisation de rencontres scientifiques.
The overarching goal of our research is to determine the neural and behavioral function of the olfactory system, and how it interacts with the other senses to interpret our environment in health and disease. To this end, several different lines of ongoing research explore various aspects of these questions using a wide range of experimental methods, including psychophysical and behavioral tests, functional brain imaging (fMRI and EEG/ERP), structural brain imaging, and psychophysiological measures
Human evolutionary biology consists of using the theoretical and practical tools and advances of evolutionary biology to understand human adaptations, either genetic or cultural. Our research concerns aspects of human behaviour that are still puzzling or not fully understood such as cooperation between non-kin, male homosexual preference, left-handedness, etc.
Researchers, faculty and doctoral students at CEEM study individual and group behaviour in various economic environments. Our research team relies strongly on laboratory experimentation to carry out those projects.
With Rita Covas (CIBIO & FitzPatrick Insitute) & Claire Doutrelant (CEFE-CNRS)
The sociable weaver research program uses an individually marked population of sociable weavers to study the evolutionary bases of cooperative behaviour and the rules that allow cooperation to persist.
Sociable Weavers Project on TV
Follow the team of the Sociable Weavers Research Project on youtube!