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Behavioural Phenotypes and the Structure of Human Cognition

Bentzen-Bilkvist, D; Migliano, A; Vinicius, L; (2016) Behavioural Phenotypes and the Structure of Human Cognition. Evolutionary Biology , 44 (1) pp. 113-119. 10.1007/s11692-016-9399-y. Green open access

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Human cognitive uniqueness is often defined in terms of cognitive abilities such as introspection, imitation and cooperativeness. However, little is known about how those traits vary in populations or correlate across individuals. Here we test whether those three cognitive domains are correlated manifestations of an underlying factor, analogous to the psychometric ‘g’ factor, or independent ‘behavioural phenotypes’, analogous to the ‘Big-Five’ personality components. We selected eight variables measuring introspection and extraversion, verbal and physical imitation, cooperation and punishment, and evaluated their individual variability, domain-consistency and sub-structuring in a sample of 84 individuals. Results show high variation and limited clustering into three independent ‘behavioural phenotypes’ of introspection, imitation and cooperation. Only one significant correlation was identified (between two measures of extraversion), while other within-domain measures (introspection vs. extraversion, verbal vs. physical imitation, and cooperation vs. punishment) were not associated. Finally, no between-domain association was identified either through correlations or factor analysis. Overall, the results do not lend support to the hypothesis of a general ‘behavioural phenotype’ underlying individual behaviour. The independence of behaviours of introspection, imitation and cooperation may be the reason why individuals are able to adopt different behavioural strategies (combinations of behavioural phenotypes) and play distinct roles in the maintenance of human distinctive features such as hyper-cooperation and cumulative culture.

Type: Article
Title: Behavioural Phenotypes and the Structure of Human Cognition
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11692-016-9399-y
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11692-016-9399-y
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2016 Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Cognition, Introspection, Imitation, Cooperation
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/1532771
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