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Kinship underlies costly cooperation in Mosuo villages

Thomas, MG; Ji, T; Wu, J; He, Q; Tao, Y; Mace, R; (2018) Kinship underlies costly cooperation in Mosuo villages. Royal Society Open Science , 5 (2) p. 171535. 10.1098/rsos.171535. Green open access

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The relative importance of social evolution theories such as kin selection, direct reciprocity and need-based transfers in explaining real-world cooperation is the source of much debate. Previous field studies of cooperation in human communities have revealed variability in the extent to which each of these theories explains human sociality in different contexts. We conducted multivariate social network analyses predicting costly cooperation-labouring on another household's farm-in 128 082 dyads of Mosuo farming households in southwest China. Through information-theoretic model selection, we tested the roles played by genealogical relatedness, affinal relationships (including reproductive partners), reciprocity, relative need, wealth, household size, spatial proximity and gift-giving in an economic game. The best-fitting model included all factors, along with interactions between relatedness and (i) reciprocity, (ii) need, (iii) the presence of own children in another household and (iv) proximity. Our results show how a real-world form of cooperation was driven by kinship. Households tended to help kin in need (but not needy non-kin) and travel further to help spatially distant relatives. Households were more likely to establish reciprocal relationships with distant relatives and non-kin but closer kin cooperated regardless of reciprocity. These patterns of kin-driven cooperation show the importance of inclusive fitness in understanding human social behaviour.

Type: Article
Title: Kinship underlies costly cooperation in Mosuo villages
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171535
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171535
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: China, farmers, kin selection, reciprocal altruism
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045476
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