Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why We Give: New Study Finds Evidence Of Generosity Among Our Early Human Ancestors

Date:
December 20, 2005
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
A groundbreaking new study examines the origins of holiday giving and finds that our early human ancestors were frequently altruistic. "This study shows that people indeed share more with those who give more to them... [but] families who cannot produce much food, close kin, and nearby neighbors sometimes receive more than they give."

A groundbreaking new study examines the origins of holiday giving and finds that our early human ancestors were frequently altruistic.

"Reciprocity is arguably the foundational basis of cooperation in humans," writes Michael Gurven (University of California - Santa Barbara). "A core feature of reciprocity is the contingent relationship between acts of giving and receiving among social partners. Contingency is important because it sets the rules for who qualifies as a free-rider or cheater in exchange relations."

A rigorous effort to quantify the extent and magnitude of different forms of payback in exchange relationships, the study, forthcoming in the February 2006 issue of Current Anthropology, will be critical for resolving heated debates about the function of altruism among hunter-gatherers.

Strict forms of contingency require tit-for-tat, while more forgiving forms emphasize the work effort or relative contributions of others. Gurven examined food exchanges in two small-scale, non-market societies -- a classic context for understanding the evolution of conditional cooperation in humans.

"Without some kind of payback, altruism can be a very costly endeavor in small-scale societies subsisting on wild foods," Gurven writes. "This study shows that people indeed share more with those who give more to them... [but] families who cannot produce much food, close kin, and nearby neighbors sometimes receive more than they give."

###

Sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Current Anthropology is a prestigious transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. For more information, please see the Web site: www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA

Michael Gurven, "The Evolution of Contingent Cooperation." Current Anthropology 47:1.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why We Give: New Study Finds Evidence Of Generosity Among Our Early Human Ancestors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051220182334.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2005, December 20). Why We Give: New Study Finds Evidence Of Generosity Among Our Early Human Ancestors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051220182334.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Why We Give: New Study Finds Evidence Of Generosity Among Our Early Human Ancestors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051220182334.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

Egypt Denies Claims Oldest Pyramid Damaged in Restoration

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) Egypt's antiquities minister denied Tuesday claims that the Djoser pyramid, the country's first, had been damaged during restoration work by a company accused of being unqualified to do such work. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

King Richard III's Painful Cause Of Death Revealed

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) King Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and now researchers examining his skull think they know how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins