Why is talking about power important?

Our aim in Prosocial is to create groups and groups of groups that work for everyone. We want our social experience to meet ever more needs of ever more people.

To do that, we need to talk about power and its use in society. When we were writing the Prosocial book, I did not feel ready to write about power, although I recognized its importance. I now believe that not talking about power, or talking about it casually, is interfering with our mission. Thus, this essay.

Ostrom also did not explicitly focus on the…


This article is a personal response to the idea of the noosphere, the global network of cultural ideas, beliefs, attitudes that can be understood as an emerging planetary consciousness.

Pause for a moment to track your awareness of that last sentence. If you are a scientist like me, you might have been with me right up to those words ‘planetary consciousness’. But then those two words might have sounded a momentary alarm and you might have wondered something like “Is this going to be some new-age rant about the possibilities of global oneness where everything is wonderful?”

When I track…


Prosocial is four things: an integrated theory of change, a practical process, a research agenda and a growing community of practitioners. In this article, we will mostly focus on the former two of these, Prosocial’s perspective upon cultural evolution and the practical tools it uses to help accelerate cultural evolution toward a more harmonious, cooperative and equitable world. All of these efforts are focused on our mission of “culturally evolving a world that works for all.”

Prosocial as an Integrated Theory of Change

Prosocial draws upon three main bodies of work: multilevel selection (MLS) theory, Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel prize-winning work on the commons, and Contextual Behavioral Science.

Multi-level Selection theory and evidence (MLS)


This was a workshop I just did for the “Coming Down to Earth” series on conflict in July 2020. The first bit is just an introduction to Prosocial but if you go to minute 40′ onwards you will see me introducing a version of the matrix I like to use to prepare for conflict situations. Most of the examples I use are from my work in schools with teachers. I was using mentimeter in this presentation and the audience make interesting contributions regarding their own experiences of conflict.

Here are the Conflict resolution matrices I used in this talk. You can download and use this tool in your own conflict situations.


The following is a case study describing some aspects of the worker-owned Mondragon cooperative ecosystem in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon is a living, thriving example of a large network of organisations that perform highly complementary and cooperative functions. …


We often say that the point of Prosocial is to balance and integrate self and collective needs. But people often hear that as saying that we should think more about the good of the group and less about themselves. In this post, I want to tell you a story about how becoming more prosocial is sometimes a matter of going deeper to understand and express our own needs.

I have a 15-year-old daughter. We love each other deeply and have lots of times of loving connection. But lately, I have found myself frequently saying the same sorts of things over…


This is a short introduction to Prosocial that we have used in the Facilitator Training course, written in 2018.

So what is this Prosocial thing. We (the team of people collaborating to bring you Prosocial) think of it as four main things:

  1. A set of ideas and concepts
  2. A process for enhancing cooperation in groups
  3. A community of practice, and
  4. A research program

In the facilitator training course, we teach you the ideas and the process — and you will be in a great place to join the community after the course is over. We hope that we can interest…


I am going to tell you a story that still, to this day, causes me shame.

A few years ago, I employed a company to help me move house. The deal was that I would pay by the hour, as it was hard for the company to estimate how long it would take. On the day of the move, I was feeling pretty stressed anyway about all that needed to be done. This feeling of stress only increased when, instead of sending a single five-ton truck, the company sent two, much smaller, two-ton trucks. As they pulled up, I could…


Almost daily we hear of some new environmental disaster. Humanity is fundamentally altering every aspect of our biosphere from the quality of the air on the highest mountain to shards of microplastic in the deepest sea valley.

I want to explore the idea that you, me and the rest of the human race are, in fact, Gaia’s cancer. And while those words may fill you with disgust, revulsion and scepticism, please stay with me because I want to also show you why that might be the best thing that has ever happened to the planet.

Let’s begin with parts and…


The ACT Matrix is a tool for helping individuals and groups act effectively in the direction of their goals and values by helping them become more aware of what really matters, and more able to handle difficult emotions and thoughts. If you don't know what the ACT Matrix is, start here for an introduction. In this article, I want to dive into one specific question regarding the ACT matrix — what does ‘Away’ really mean.

Here is an example of a partially completed collective ACT Matrix. You will see we label the left hand side ‘Away’ and the right hand…

Paul Atkins

I research and write about creating greater cooperation and harmony in the world. I am co-founder of www.prosocial.world and author of the book “Prosocial”.

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