Human Nature 19 (4):374-388 (2008)

This work addresses the emergence of prestige goods, which appear with fully modern Homo sapiens but at different times in different regions. I theorize that such goods came into existence to signal the level of skill held by their owners, in order to gain deference benefits from learning individuals in exchange for access. A game theoretic model demonstrates that a signaling strategy can invade a non-signaling population and can be evolutionarily stable under a set of reasonable parameter values. Increasing competition levels were likely the selective force driving the adoption of this novel strategy. Two changes in the social context in which prestige processes operate are tentatively identified as leading to increased levels of competition for prestige: (1) increasing group sizes and (2) increasing complexity or size of the existing cultural repertoire. Implications for prestige goods’ later use in social and political competition are discussed
Keywords Costly signaling theory  Cultural evolution  Game theory  Prestige goods
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DOI 10.1007/s12110-008-9050-4
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The Evolution of Magnanimity.James L. Boone - 1998 - Human Nature 9 (1):1-21.

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