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Western University
Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Chapter 8: The Evolutionary Psychology of Social Behaviour - Reciprocity and Group Behaviour ReciprocalAltruism • The evolution of reciprocal altruism in an animal society relies on a number of prerequisites: • The cost of the altruistic act to the recipient should be lower than the benefit to the actor • Animals should be capable of recognizing each other in order to both reciprocate and to detect cheats • Animals should have a reasonably long life span • Outside of homo sapiens it is quite a rare occurrence • ReciprocalAltruism and Human Evolution • Trivers considers that reciprocal altruism is likely to have played an important role in hominid evolution • The Harmless People - The !Kung San • Monogamous people, live on the open savannah/desert of the Kalahari in small nomadic bands • !Kung men vary quite considerably in their hunting prowess, but all meat killed is shared • The band will frequently produce four or five two-man teams which hunt simultaneously, but only one of these needs to be successful in a big game hunt to provide meat for the entire band • Each hunter will divide his share among his relatives who, in turn, share with their next of kin • Alapse of such generosity is considered a grave social sin and individual who fail to comply lose status and prestige • Anthropologists have labelled the food related behaviour of the !Kung San a gift economy • Reciprocal arrangements make a great deal of sense in the unpredictable environments • The Fierce People - The Yanomamo • Polygynous permanent villages that set up were crops are grown • Trading practices occur within and between villages • An important facet of this trading is that a ‘gift’must always be reciprocated by a different gift of equal value • Frequent violent raids on each others villages which are most usually conducted on the premise of avenging some past killing or abduction • Evolutionary psychologists suggest that the extent to which food sharing extends beyond the family is dependent on their method of gaining food and their mating system • Food and sex may well be inter-related • Societies that rely solely on foraging, a man cannot store up anything with which to barter • However, you can store up the notion of the gift of meat • In times of need the Yanomamo are known to aid friends in addition to relatives • Prisoner’s Dilemma and ReciprocalAltruism • Game theory examines problem the world presents in both simplified and universal ways Chapter 8: The Evolutionary Psychology of Social Behaviour - Reciprocity and Group Behaviour • One of the main aims of game theory is to find a solution to a problem which, given what everybody else is doing, cannot be bettered • One particular hypothetical scenario that game theory has been applied to solving is called prisoner’s dilemma PllayerrA Player B
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