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Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

Chapter 7: The Evolutionary Psychology of Social Behaviour - Kin Relationships and Conflict Charity Begins at Home - Inclusive Fitness Theory and KinAltruism • Evolutionists define altruism purely in terms of the act performed, not the intention behind it • Self-sacrificing behaviour involve giving aid to relative with which the altruist shares a varying proportion of their genes • In Hamilton’s terminology we can expect ‘actors’to show self-sacrificing behaviour for ‘recipients’(relatives) when the cost to the actor is less than the benefit to the recipient c < rb • c is the cost tot he actor, r is the coefficient of relatedness and b is the benefit to the recipient • Modern-day evolutionist consider the genes which are passed on to the next generation via an individual’s own offspring as their direct fitness and those which are passed on via aid to other kin as their indirect fitness • Taken together direct and indirect fitness equal inclusive fitness • Hamilton argued that we can predict that animals are likely to provide care for others who share genes with them by common descent and that the amount of care given will increase as does the proportion of these genes shared • Kin selection is part of natural selection that promotes the favoring of relatives • Can KinAltruism Explain HumanActs of Self-Sacrifice? • The idea that animals help their kin in the interests of shared genes by common descent is not problematic • However, applying the same reasoning to our own species is has led to a number of quite vociferous debates • This does not mean that humans continually act to increase their inclusive fitness but that we have developed the type of mind which tends to do things that aided inclusive fitness in our past and may frequently do so today • People may rely more on friends for companionship but, when it comes to life-threatening circumstances, charity does begin at home • Adoption and Fractions - Shalins’Criticisms of KinAltruism • Despite these positive finding some acts of human kindness appear to run counter to Hamilton’s notion of a species of nepotistic strategists • Hamilton’s notion of kin altruism is fundamentally flawed • Shalins made two criticisms: • First, he suggested that because most hunter-gatherer cultures have not invented the fraction, then they are incapable of calculating ‘r’and hence would be unable to act appropriately towards relatives • Second, he suggested that adoption practices of hunter-gatherer societies do not reflect patterns that kin altruism theory would predict • Unfortunately, however, his argument showed poor understanding of the proposed relationship between natural selection and behaviour • It is not necessary for an organism to have insight into either how or why it does anything • Adoption in the West Today -All You Need is Love • During our own ancient past it may have made adaptive sense to adopt young orphaned individuals since, as members of your small tribe, they would most probably have been relatives of some degree Chapter 7: The Evolutionary Psychology of Social Behaviour - Kin Relationships and Conflict • Some evolutionary psychologists have argued tat the sort f mind which tends to feel sympathetic towards helpless youngsters, and develop a desire to give aid to them, is one which has arisen form a history of kin-selected altruism • It is important to realize that animals do not run around searching out more and more distant relatives in order to give them smaller and smaller pieces of their investment pie • In most cases parents pt effort into raising offspring because these are not only the ones with which they share a large proportion of their genes but also the most likely to be at the most appropriate stage in their life cycle Parental Investment and Family Life • How Much Should Parents Invest? • Ecologists call the production of vast numbers of offspring at little cost per individual r- selection and the production of very few at great cost per individual K-selection • K to r-selection is a continuum • Whether an organism favors the r end or the K end of the continuum depends on the ecological pressures and body pla
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