Kristopher Smith, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychology/Social Behavioral Science Initiative
University of Pennsylvania
How exposure to other cultures is changing Hadza cooperation
Human cooperation differs in scope and scale from other animals. Whereas cooperation in nonhuman animals is restricted to kin and reciprocal relationships, humans cooperate in large groups and with anonymous strangers. How did this propensity to cooperate evolve? One popular explanation is partner choice: Our ability to choose who we cooperate with created evolutionary incentives for people to be valuable social partners, thereby setting the stage for the selection of more cooperative individuals. I will outline the basic assumptions of partner choice models. Next, I will present data from the Hadza, a population of foragers living in Northern Tanzania. The data show that the Hadza do not have a trait-like tendency to cooperate and have only weak preferences to live with more cooperative people, thus providing little benefit to highly cooperative individuals. These results challenge partner choice models for maintaining cooperation among the Hadza. However, I end with more recent data to suggest that this is changing. Over time, the Hadza are exhibiting stronger preferences for more cooperative campmates and, individuals reporting greater exposure to surrounding market-integrated cultures are more likely to prefer and share food with generous campmates. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that cultural institutions shape our partner choice psychology and the findings further highlight the importance of culture in explaining the evolution of human cooperation.
The presentation will begin at 12:00pm. Food and drinks will be provided.