The coevolution of cooperation and cognition in humans

Dos Santos, Miguel; West, Stuart A. (2018). The coevolution of cooperation and cognition in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society. Series B - biological sciences, 285(1879), pp. 1-8. Royal Society of London 10.1098/rspb.2018.0723

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Cooperative behaviours in archaic hunter–gatherers could have been maintained partly due to the gains from cooperation being shared with kin. However, the question arises as to how cooperation was maintained after early humans transitioned to larger groups of unrelated individuals. We hypothesize that after cooperation had evolved via benefits to kin, the consecutive evolution of cognition increased the returns from cooperating, to the point where benefits to self were sufficient for cooperation to remain stable when group size increased and relatedness decreased. We investigate the theoretical plausibility of this hypothesis, with both analytical modelling and simulations. We examine situations where cognition either (i) increases the benefits of cooperation, (ii) leads to synergistic benefits between cognitively enhanced cooperators, (iii) allows the exploitation of less intelligent partners, and (iv) the combination of these effects. We find that cooperation and cognition can coevolve—cooperation initially evolves, favouring enhanced cognition, which favours enhanced cooperation, and stabilizes cooperation against a drop in relatedness. These results suggest that enhanced cognition could have transformed the nature of cooperative dilemmas faced by early humans, thereby explaining the maintenance of cooperation between unrelated partners.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Psychology and Social Neuroscience

UniBE Contributor:

Dos Santos, Miguel

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

0962-8452

Publisher:

Royal Society of London

Funders:

[4] Swiss National Science Foundation

Language:

English

Submitter:

Miguel Dos Santos

Date Deposited:

20 Mar 2019 08:44

Last Modified:

27 Oct 2019 22:46

Publisher DOI:

10.1098/rspb.2018.0723

PubMed ID:

29848655

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.123894

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/123894

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