Navigation Links
We're in this together: A pathbreaking investigation into the evolution of cooperative behavior

Humans are much more inclined to cooperate than are their closest evolutionary relatives. The prevailing wisdom about why this is true has long been focused on the idea of altruism: we go out of our way to do nice things for other people, sometimes even sacrificing personal success for the good of others. Modern theories of cooperative behavior suggest that acting selflessly in the moment provides a selective advantage to the altruist in the form of some kind of return benefit.

A new study published by Current Anthropology offers another explanation for our unusual aptitude for collaboration. The authors of the study argue that humans developed cooperative skills because it was in their mutual interest to work well with othersindeed ecological circumstances forced them to cooperate with others to obtain food. In other words, altruism isn't the reason we cooperate; we must cooperate in order to survive, and we are altruistic to others because we need them.

Previous theories located the origin of cooperation in either small group settings or large, sophisticated societies. Based on results from cognitive and psychological experiments and research on human development, this study provides a comprehensive account of the evolution of cooperation as a two-step process, which begins in small hunter-gatherer groups and becomes more complex and culturally inscribed in larger societies later on.

The authors premise their theory of mutualistic cooperation on the principle of interdependence. They speculate that at some point in our evolution, it became necessary for humans to forage together, which meant that each individual had a direct stake in the welfare of his partners. In this context of interdependence, humans evolved special cooperative abilities that other apes do not possess, including dividing the spoils fairly, communicating goals and strategies, and understanding one's role in the joint activity as equivalent to another's. Good partnerswho were able to coordinate well with their fellow foragers and would pull their weight in the groupwere more likely to succeed.

As societies grew in size and complexity, their members became even more dependent on one another. In what the authors of this study define as a second evolutionary step, these collaborative skills and impulses were developed on a larger scale as humans faced competition from other groups. People became more "group-minded," identifying with others in their society even if they did not know them personally. This new sense of belonging brought about cultural conventions, norms, and institutions that incentivized and structured feelings of social responsibility.

Contact: Dr. Michael Tomasello
University of Chicago Press Journals

Related biology news :

1. Heart-powered pacemaker could one day eliminate battery-replacement surgery
2. How old are these rocks, how were they made, and how long ago did these geologic changes happen?
3. They were what they ate
4. Dinosaurs were warm-blooded reptiles
5. A millimeter-scale, wirelessly powered cardiac device
6. Laser-powered needle promises pain-free injections
7. Newly demonstrated capabilities of low-powered nanotweezers may benefit cellular-level studies
8. Humans were already recycling 13,000 years ago
9. Were dinosaurs destined to be big? Testing Copes rule
10. Medical devices powered by the ear itself
11. These bots were made for walking: Cells power biological machines
Post Your Comments:
(Date:9/30/2015)... PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. , Sept. 30, 2015 ... Circuit earlier this month issued another key ruling in ... Commission,s (ITC,s) determination that Korean fingerprint scanner company Suprema ... the Tariff Act of 1930, a trade provision that ... connection with import trade, by infringing two of Crossmatch,s ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... -- News facts: , ... , Minimized design shrinks PC footprint , ... embedded Fujitsu PalmSecure authentication enable enterprises to realize benefits ... that good things come in small packages, with the ... desktop and mobile portfolio. Featuring workplace design that favors ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... 2015 CLEAR, the leading biometric ... traveler service is coming to Austin-Bergstrom International ... a frictionless experience, serious speed and enhanced ... offers our travelers an expedited security screening ... Jim Smith , Executive Director, Austin-Bergstrom International ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Proove ... to announce their partnership with the Keck Medicine of the University of ... , The T.R.O.J.A.N. Study (Therapeutic Evaluation to Research Clinical Objectives Linking Genotypic and ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... Carolina (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2015 , ... Spirax ... announce the release of the CSM-C 600 compact clean steam generator . ... steam that meets the requirements of HTM2031, HTM2010, and EN285 standards. The CMS-C ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... , October 12, 2015 cell ... 6.49 billion by 2022, according to a new report by ... attributed to rise in incidence of oncology diseases and other ... is expected to reach USD 6.49 billion by 2022, ... This growth in demand can be attributed to rise in ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... CAESAREA, Israel , October 12, 2015 ... of the Dario™ Diabetes Management Solution, today announced its ... a patient case study at MobiHealth,s 5th EAI ... Focused on, "Transforming healthcare through innovations in mobile and ... London, England from October 14 - ...
Breaking Biology Technology: