Human cooperation is highly unusual. We live in large groups composed mostly of non-relatives. Evolutionists have proposed a number of explanations for this pattern, including cultural group selection and extensions of more general processes such as reciprocity, kin selection, and multi-level selection acting on genes. Evolutionary processes are consilient; they affect several different empirical domains, such as patterns of behavior and the proximal drivers of that behavior. In this target article, we sketch the evidence from five domains that bear on (...) the explanatory adequacy of cultural group selection and competing hypotheses to explain human cooperation. Does cultural transmission constitute an inheritance system that can evolve in a Darwinian fashion? Are the norms that underpin institutions among the cultural traits so transmitted? Do we observe sufficient variation at the level of groups of considerable size for group selection to be a plausible process? Do human groups compete, and do success and failure in competition depend upon cultural variation? Do we observe adaptations for cooperation in humans that most plausibly arose by cultural group selection? If the answer to one of these questions is “no,” then we must look to other hypotheses. We present evidence, including quantitative evidence, that the answer to all of the questions is “yes” and argue that we must take the cultural group selection hypothesis seriously. If culturally transmitted systems of rules that limit individual deviance organize cooperation in human societies, then it is not clear that any extant alternative to cultural group selection can be a complete explanation. (shrink)
This chapter focuses on the way that cultures change and how cultural diversity is created, maintained and lost. Human culture is the inevitable result of the way our species acquires its behavior. We are extremely social animals and an overwhelming proportion of our behavior is socially learned. The behavior of other animals is largely a product of innate evolved determinants of behavior combined with individual learning. They make quite modest use of social learning while we acquire a massive cultural repertoire (...) from the people we associate with (Richerson & Boyd, 2005: Chapter 2). Expertise in exploiting our environment, values about what matters in life and even feelings about whom to trust and whom to hate are mostly “absorbed” from those around us. (shrink)
This chapter examines whether religion is adaptive: if it changes from one generation to another, from a specific culture to another, and how other domains of culture influence changes in a certain religion. It begins by providing the basics of evolution, including adaptation and selection of characteristics at multiple levels. It explains how religion promotes cooperation, and which elements of religion contribute to this and how effective they are. Also, it explores how established churches depend and select a certain frequency (...) of believers, as in the same community, same culture, etc. The chapter concludes that even in the presence of biological and cultural complexity and diversity, religions are unlikely to support generalizations about adaptation versus maladaptation. (shrink)
Women's preference for symmetrical men need not have evolved as part of a good gene sexual selection (GGSS) reproductive strategy employed during recent human evolutionary history. It may be a remnant of the reproductive strategy of a perhaps promiscuous species which existed prior to the divergence of the human line from that of the bonobo and chimp.
In theory, observed correlations between genetic information and behaviour might be useful to members of the WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) populations. Guiding young people to choose educational opportunities that best match their abilities would benefit both the individual and society. In practice, however, such choices are far more profoundly limited by the culture people have inherited than their genes.
On the basis of a reinterpretation of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP) data, we suggest that findings are consistent with the view that human reproductive behaviour is largely under social control. Behaviours associated with a high Sociosexual Orientation Index (SOI) may be part of a progressive change in reproductive behaviour initiated by the dispersal of kin that occurs as societies modernize.