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

Nov 19, 2012

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 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 others—indeed ecological circumstances forced them to cooperate with others to obtain food. In other words, 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 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 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 partners—who were able to coordinate well with their fellow foragers and would pull their weight in the group—were 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.

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More information: Tomasello, Michael, et al. "Two Key Steps in the Evolution of Human Cooperation: The Interdependence Hypothesis." Current Anthropology 53:5.

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Tausch
3 / 5 (6) Nov 19, 2012
Cooperation was not always subjected to rationalization - only since the dawn of humankind.
The 'one-boat' dictate falls short globally.
As if the earth itself is not reason enough.
VendicarD
2.6 / 5 (13) Nov 19, 2012
Wild apes pretty much live in a free market Libertarian paradise in which the strong dominate the weak.

Hence apes continue to live in the Libertarian paradise known as the wild jungle.

Meanwhile humans evolved governance, and the cooperation that results from standards and laws.

The ascent of man over the Libertarian apes, has been the natural result.
cantdrive85
2.2 / 5 (17) Nov 19, 2012
An analogy of anarchy used to describe an ideal of liberty from official persecution? Clearly reason and intelligence are a challenge for socialist Marxists.
Modernmystic
3.1 / 5 (7) Nov 19, 2012
Some people look at society and see the primacy of being independent (as if it were possible). Some look and see the primacy of dependent (as if it were healthy or sustainable).

A few look and see the primacy of being INTERdependent....

ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (15) Nov 19, 2012
Cooperation can't be coerced. 'Progressives'/ 'liberals'/socialists will glom on to this to justify their coercive tactics.
"altruism isn't the reason we cooperate"
Adam Smith called self interest.
Boogeyman
2.6 / 5 (14) Nov 19, 2012
Wild apes pretty much live in a free market Libertarian paradise in which the strong dominate the weak.

Hence apes continue to live in the Libertarian paradise known as the wild jungle.

Meanwhile humans evolved governance, and the cooperation that results from standards and laws.The ascent of man over the Libertarian apes, has been the natural result.


One of the cornerstones of Libertarian thought is the idea that the rights of the individual - life, liberty, and property - are sancrosanct, and thus the use of force to deprive an individual of these without good reason and due process is, for lack of a better word, evil. Libertarians and Conservatives are surrounded by Progessive ideas and so have a pretty good handle on how they think and what they want. Progressives are rarely exposed to the other side's ideas, so they feel free to ascribe every dark and evil motive they can imagine to the hated 'other'. Libertarianism is the opposite of the law of the jungle.
JVK
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 19, 2012
We continue to see evidence of the same molecular mechanisms in the evolution of cooperative behavior that are first seen at the advent of multicellularity. Organisms that literally "stuck together" apparently did so to acquire more food. Does this common theme across an evolutionary continuum that leads to human cooperation suggest to others that random mutations drove the adaptive evolution of our behavior? Is there a model for that? If so, let's compare it to the "...model showing that multicellularity and cellular differentiation can develop when cells can form an aggregate that enables them to exchange chemical signals and metabolites." http://rspb.royal...abstract
If not, let's drop the ridiculous theory that random mutations cause adaptive evolution from any further consideration by the intelligent among us and leave the theory for those who are less adaptively evolved. I see some of them are already here.
Zags
not rated yet Nov 20, 2012
Cooperation begets leadership. Religions provide false leadership - parasitic in nature. Thus evolution provides for religions.
VendicarD
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2012
Since reason and intelligence supports socialism, your comment tells us much the opposition to socialism.

"Clearly reason and intelligence are a challenge for socialist Marxists." - Cantdrive
VendicarD
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2012
All property is theft.

"One of the cornerstones of Libertarian thought is the idea that the rights of the individual - life, liberty, and property - are sancrosanct, and thus the use of force to deprive an individual of these without good reason and due process is, for lack of a better word, evil." - BoogieWoogie

Denying a person property though legal means is no different than the denial of property though direct theft.

Every thief demands that his property rights be respected.

Every petty king demands that he has exclusive ownership rights to his kingdom.
VendicarD
2 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2012
You must pay taxes because you are perpetually whining about it.

"Cooperation can't be coerced." - RyggTard

You claim that in their payment you have been coerced.

Hence your cooperation has been coerced.

Poor RyggTard. Words have little meaning to him and his Libertarian Blowhard brothers.

Just think. If all those million Libertarians who voted for the Libertarian party, had of voted for Ronmey, Ronmey would have won.

Once again the Libertarian party slit their own ideological throats.

Noumenon
1.9 / 5 (13) Nov 20, 2012
LOL, more socialist propaganda disguised as research.

Cooperation for its own sake is not a motive force for anything. If it was, there wouldn't be the "need" for socialistic governments, that through social engineering and control of human behavior, force cooperation into society.

Humans come together in society because it provides opportunity to USE each other for their own gain and profit. Individualism and egoism is the natural process that leads to progress in evolution in general, and in human economic and social evolution,... not collectivism and cooperation.

Socialists require propaganda to reeducate against ones intrinsic instincts.
cantdrive85
2.2 / 5 (9) Nov 20, 2012

Just think. If all those million Libertarians who voted for the Libertarian party, had of voted for Ronmey, Ronmey would have won.

Once again the Libertarian party slit their own ideological throats.


There's that inability to reason and lack of intelligence showing up again. What about O'Romney's position was different from OBAAAAAMA!? What libertarian ideals does Romney support? Just because the dumbocrats and repugnicans are fine with settling for the LCD doesn't mean libertarians are so stupid to vote against their best interest.
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Nov 25, 2012
LOL, more socialist propaganda disguised as research.

Cooperation for its own sake is not a motive force for anything. If it was, there wouldn't be the "need" for socialistic governments, [...]
Humans come together in society because it provides opportunity to USE each other for their own gain and profit. Individualism and egoism is the natural process that leads to progress in evolution in general, and in human economic and social evolution,... not collectivism and cooperation.


LOL!!!

In fact, nonoUNme, just the opposite holds true, and progress and innovation are stalled, as the plenipotentiaries administer their realms for their own profit.

Your Libertarian/Randite Utopia has already occurred -it was known as the Middle Ages. Famous for "innovation" in implements of torture and siege engines. Also known as a PROFOUNDLY CONSERVATIVE era in human history.

And I've got a bucket of boiling oil that says you aren't taking me back there.

kochevnik
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2012
Socialists require propaganda to reeducate against ones intrinsic instincts.
LOL your body is made out out of a trillion individuals forced into the yoke of collectivism. You are a COMMUNIST Noumenon!
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 25, 2012
Socialists require propaganda to reeducate against ones intrinsic instincts.
LOL your body is made out out of a trillion individuals forced into the yoke of collectivism. You are a COMMUNIST Noumenon!

Those millions of billions of Soviet cells forced together didn't cooperate well. Why?
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2012
Socialists require propaganda to reeducate against ones intrinsic instincts.
LOL your body is made out out of a trillion individuals forced into the yoke of collectivism. You are a COMMUNIST Noumenon!


An apple is red and shiny, an orange is orange and dimpled....

Not that I don't recognize the indispensable nature of human interdependence/culture/society/government....I think it's a tad over the top to compare human beings to skin cells....
FrankHerbert
3 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
OBAAAAAMA!?


Cantdrive, do you really think that's going to keep you off the secret police's radar? Have fun in Guantanamo.
Tausch
1 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2012
...unless you are the one that fails to see the indispensability.
You do not fail to see the indispensability.

So completing your sentence is not directed towards you.

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