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Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin

Thomas, MG; Naess, MW; Bardsen, B-J; Mace, R; (2015) Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin. Behavioral Ecology , 26 (6) pp. 1495-1501. 10.1093/beheco/arv106. Green open access

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Abstract

Cooperative behaviors evolve by ultimately increasing the inclusive fitness of performers as well as recipients of those behaviors. Such increases can occur via direct or indirect fitness benefits, theoretically explained by reciprocal altruism and kin selection, respectively. However, humans are known for cooperating with individuals who are not necessarily genetic relatives, which seemingly precludes kin selection as an explanation. Here, we aim to quantify the relative importance of kinship and social group membership as mediators of cooperative behavior. Using an experimental gift game, we test whether indigenous Saami reindeer herders in Norway give gifts to genetic relatives or to members of their cooperative herding group (the “siida”) or both. Membership of the same siida strongly increased the odds of gift giving. Kinship had a smaller, albeit positive, effect. Gifts were not preferentially given to younger family members, contrary to predictions relating to intergenerational resource transfers as a form of parental investment. These patterns suggest that social grouping can be at least as important as genetic factors in mediating cooperative behavior in this population. This is likely to reflect the importance of herding groups in day-to-day subsistence.

Type: Article
Title: Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arv106
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv106
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Behavioral Ecology following peer review. The version of record, Thomas, MG; Naess, MW; Bardsen, B-J; Mace, R; (2015) Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin. Behavioral Ecology, 26 (6) pp. 1495-1501, is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv106.
Keywords: cooperation, economic games, humans, kin selection, reciprocal altruism, social groups
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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/1469795
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