About The Prosocial Institute

A network of internationally renowned facilitators, coaches, trainers and researchers.


Prosocial is a method for improving human welfare through creating more effective, harmonious, equitable and cooperative groups. Prosocial has been applied in situations as diverse as helping a school to enhance collaboration among teachers and students, a community to reduce the spread of Ebola and a network of environmental groups seeking to cooperate more effectively to achieve their common aims.  Prosocial works best for groups, and networks of groups, that are interested in human welfare, not just economic outcomes. 

Are you interested in learning more about the Prosocial process or joining our network of over 200 trained Prosocial facilitators around the world?

What is the Prosocial process?

As we articulate in our book "Prosocial", the Prosocial process is built on three big ideas:

  1. The evolution of complex adaptive systems,
  2. The science of behavior change , and
  3. The social science of cooperation

Prosocial is built on a worldview that our social worlds are complex adaptive systems that are continuously evolving. Evolutionary theory gives us a lens to help make better sense of this complexity. What are the elements of the system, how do they interact at different levels of organisation, and what are the forces pushing towards selfishness or effective collective action?


Within this multi-level view of social evolution, it quickly becomes clear we need tools and frameworks to help both individuals and systems become more effective. Our method draws upon the sciences of behavior change to help individuals become more aware of themselves and others. We assist in overcoming fears, adding more flexibly to their life and helping them to effectively pursue their goals and values.

In short, we teach them to be resilient even in the face of the inevitable challenges of building high performing teams. Last, we draw upon the work of political scientist and Nobel prize winner Elinor Ostrom, who articulated 8 Core Design Principles for effective cooperation in groups with a shared purpose.

As framed within Prosocial, these Core Design Principles are:

  1. Creating a strong sense of shared identity and purpose
  2. Building a win-win culture where benefits are matched to contributions and shared equitably
  3. Ensuring everybody who needs to be included in decision making is included
  4. Creating transparency, where everybody can see what others in the group are doing
  5. Responding in a compassionate but firm and effective way to rectify breaches of agreed behaviors
  6. Ensuring fast and fair resolution of differences in values and perspectives
  7. As much as possible, supporting self-management 
  8. Applying principles 1-7 not just within a group, but also between it and other groups in its ecosystem.

Each of these principles separately works well to improve group effectiveness, but they are truly transformative when combined in the Prosocial process with a framework for seeing evolution in action and the practical psychological tools for implementing the Core Design Principles flexibly and efficiently.

Becoming a Prosocial facilitator will transform your facilitation practice. Imagine having a general framework for diagnosing and understanding all groups and networks for groups. Prosocial gives you that framework. During the training you will learn how to see when the design principles have been implemented well and when they need to improve. And you will learn a very practical tool for clarifying what needs to be done at the individual and group level to move forward and better implement the principles.

About Paul

Published in the world’s leading management and psychology journals


Paul Atkins (PhD) - Director of the Prosocial Institute

Paul co-developed the Prosocial process which draws upon the psychology of behavior change as well as political, economic and evolutionary science to improve cooperation within and between groups.

Paul’s work has been published in the world’s leading management and psychology journals. His latest book “Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups” has been described as "groundbreaking”, and "chock full of clear steps" (Jane Dutton, author of Awakening Compassion at Work). It is " essential reading for anyone who works with people in group settings, and who is committed to helping these groups to be their best.” says Susan David (author of Emotional Agility).

Paul works in three main areas...

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Learn Prosocial

As the lead trainer for the Prosocial process, Paul and has taught over 200 facilitators in more than 15 countries how to make a bigger difference and build a business helping the groups they really care about.

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School Leaders

Paul works with school principals and deputies to enhance their leadership and school performance. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (ACU), he has a deep understanding of the issues facing school leaders today. Paul creates a safe learning and reflection space for school leaders overwhelmed by the increasing demands and job complexity. Bringing their working lives under control and make building better school environments.

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Facilitation Services

Paul works with people and groups who have a social, educational or environmental mission. For over 30 years he’s helped schools, community groups, hospitals, companies and government departments build a stronger sense of shared identity and purpose, make better decisions and resolve the inevitable conflicts of meaningful work.

If you want to learn more about improving a social group you care about, joining a school leader mastermind group or becoming a Prosocial facilitator, contact Paul today.