Cooperation Through Cultural Group Selection

Help your friends and hurt your enemies. That may be common sense, but serious questions remain as to why this approach exists and how it works. Can an overarching theory of human cooperation be verified scientifically? A new study by anthropologists Carla Handley and Sara Mathews, published in Nature Communications, puts this age-old intuition to the test. Examining the complex relationship of pastoralist tribes in northern Kenya, they present empirical evidence that, under the pressure of intergroup competition, ethnic solidarity is the direct result of cultural group selection. They argue that the effects of cultural forces are far greater than genetic predisposition or geographic proximity in promoting cooperation with nonkin.


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