Human Nature

http://link.springer.com/journal/12110

List of Papers (Total 36)

Evidence for the Adaptive Learning Function of Work and Work-Themed Play among Aka Forager and Ngandu Farmer Children from the Congo Basin

Work-themed play may allow children to learn complex skills, and ethno-typical and gender-typical behaviors. Thus, play may have made important contributions to the evolution of childhood through the development of embodied capital. Using data from Aka foragers and Ngandu farmer children from the Central African Republic, we ask whether children perform ethno- and gender-typical...

Food Sharing across Borders

Evolutionary models consider hunting and food sharing to be milestones that paved the way from primate to human societies. Because fossil evidence is scarce, hominoid primates serve as referential models to assess our common ancestors’ capacity in terms of communal use of resources, food sharing, and other forms of cooperation. Whereas chimpanzees form male-male bonds exhibiting...

Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy

MacDonald argues that a suite of genetic and cultural adaptations among Jews constitutes a “group evolutionary strategy.” Their supposed genetic adaptations include, most notably, high intelligence, conscientiousness, and ethnocentrism. According to this thesis, several major intellectual and political movements, such as Boasian anthropology, Freudian psychoanalysis, and...

Grandmothers and Children’s Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa

Under poor circumstances, co-residence of a grandmother is generally considered to be beneficial for (grand)children. Empirical evidence does not unequivocally support this expectation and suggests that the grandmother’s importance depends on the family’s circumstances. We study the relationship between grandmother’s co-residence and children’s schooling in sub-Saharan Africa...

Correction to: Altruistic Behavior among Twins

The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. The presentation of the article title and subtitle was incorrect.

Measuring the Unmeasurable

Within evolutionary biology, life-history theory is used to explain cross-species differences in allocation strategies regarding reproduction, maturation, and survival. Behavioral scientists have recently begun to conceptualize such strategies as a within-species individual characteristic that is predictive of behavior. Although life history theory provides an important framework...

Salmon Bias or Red Herring?

The purpose of this research is to empirically test the salmon bias hypothesis, which states that the “healthy migrant” effect—referring to a situation in which migrants enjoy lower mortality risks than natives—is caused by selective return-migration of the weak, sick, and elderly. Using a unique longitudinal micro-level database—the Historical Sample of the Netherlands—we...

How Do Hunter-Gatherer Children Learn Subsistence Skills?

Hunting and gathering is, evolutionarily, the defining subsistence strategy of our species. Studying how children learn foraging skills can, therefore, provide us with key data to test theories about the evolution of human life history, cognition, and social behavior. Modern foragers, with their vast cultural and environmental diversity, have mostly been studied individually...

Interethnic Interaction, Strategic Bargaining Power, and the Dynamics of Cultural Norms

Ethnic groups are universal and unique to human societies. Such groups sometimes have norms of behavior that are adaptively linked to their social and ecological circumstances, and ethnic boundaries may function to protect that variation from erosion by interethnic interaction. However, such interaction is often frequent and voluntary, suggesting that individuals may be able to...

The Role of Ontogeny in the Evolution of Human Cooperation

To explain the evolutionary emergence of uniquely human skills and motivations for cooperation, Tomasello et al. (2012, in Current Anthropology 53(6):673–92) proposed the interdependence hypothesis. The key adaptive context in this account was the obligate collaborative foraging of early human adults. Hawkes (2014, in Human Nature 25(1):28–48), following Hrdy (Mothers and Others...

Familiarity with Own Population’s Appearance Influences Facial Preferences

Previous studies have found that individuals from rural areas in Malaysia and in El Salvador prefer heavier women than individuals from urban areas. Several explanations have been proposed to explain these differences in weight preferences but no study has explored familiarity as a possible explanation. We therefore sought to investigate participants’ face preferences while also...

The Reproductive Ecology of Industrial Societies, Part II

Studies of the association between wealth and fertility in industrial populations have a rich history in the evolutionary literature, and they have been used to argue both for and against a behavioral ecological approach to explaining human variability. We consider that there are strong arguments in favor of measuring fertility (and proxies thereof) in industrial populations, not...

The Reproductive Ecology of Industrial Societies, Part I

Is fertility relevant to evolutionary analyses conducted in modern industrial societies? This question has been the subject of a highly contentious debate, beginning in the late 1980s and continuing to this day. Researchers in both evolutionary and social sciences have argued that the measurement of fitness-related traits (e.g., fertility) offers little insight into evolutionary...

Hunter-Gatherers and the Origins of Religion

Recent studies of the evolution of religion have revealed the cognitive underpinnings of belief in supernatural agents, the role of ritual in promoting cooperation, and the contribution of morally punishing high gods to the growth and stabilization of human society. The universality of religion across human society points to a deep evolutionary past. However, specific traits of...

Mobility and Navigation among the Yucatec Maya

Sex differences in range size and navigation are widely reported, with males traveling farther than females, being less spatially anxious, and in many studies navigating more effectively. One explanation holds that these differences are the result of sexual selection, with larger ranges conferring mating benefits on males, while another explanation focuses on greater parenting...

Managing Relationship Decay

Relationships are central to human life strategies and have crucial fitness consequences. Yet, at the same time, they incur significant maintenance costs that are rarely considered in either social psychological or evolutionary studies. Although many social psychological studies have explored their dynamics, these studies have typically focused on a small number of emotionally...

Reciprocity on Demand

Two competing models concerning food transfers prominent in the anthropological literature conceptualize such transfers either as sharing or as exchange. Sharing is understood as situational transactions formed through demands and unconditional giving, whereas reciprocal exchange is understood in terms of networking and keeping score. I propose that the picture is more...

With the Help of Kin?

Relatives play an important role in human reproduction according to evolutionary theories of reproductive behavior, but previous empirical studies show large differences in the effects of kin on fertility outcomes. In our paper we examine the effect of co-resident kin and non-kin on the length of birth intervals over the reproductive life course of Dutch women born between 1842...

Early Humans’ Egalitarian Politics

This paper proposes a model of human uniqueness based on an unusual distinction between two contrasted kinds of political competition and political status: (1) antagonistic competition, in quest of dominance (antagonistic status), a zero-sum, self-limiting game whose stake—who takes what, when, how—summarizes a classical definition of politics (Lasswell 1936), and (2) synergistic...

Father Absence and Reproduction-Related Outcomes in Malaysia, a Transitional Fertility Population

Father absence is consistently associated with children’s reproductive outcomes in industrialized countries. It has been suggested that father absence acts as a cue to particular environmental conditions that influence life history strategies. Much less is known, however, about the effects of father absence on such outcomes in lower-income countries. Using data from the 1988...

Altruistic Punishment and Between-Group Competition

Collective action, or the large-scale cooperation in the pursuit of public goods, has been suggested to have evolved through cultural group selection. Previous research suggests that the costly punishment of group members who do not contribute to public goods plays an important role in the resolution of collective action dilemmas. If large-scale cooperation sustained by the...

Life History of Female Preferences for Male Faces

Although scientific interest in facial attractiveness has developed substantially in recent years, few studies have contributed to our understanding of the ontogeny of facial preferences. In this study, attractiveness of 30 male faces was evaluated by four female groups: girls at puberty, nonpregnant and pregnant young women, and middle-aged women. The main findings are as...

Darkness’s Descent on the American Anthropological Association

In September 2000, the self-styled “anthropological journalist” Patrick Tierney began to make public his work claiming that the Yanomamö people of South America had been actively—indeed brutally—harmed by the sociobiological anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and the geneticist-physician James Neel. Following a florid summary of Tierney’s claims by the anthropologists Terence Turner...