Skip to main content

Contributions of family social structure to the development of ultrasociality in humans

  • Benjamin C. Nephew (a1) and Florent Pittet (a1)

The evolution of ultrasociality in humans may have involved the evolutionarily significant mechanisms that govern family social structure in many animal species. Adverse effects of ultrasociality in humans may be mediated by maladaptive effects of modern civilization on family groups, as many of the effects on both families and societies are especially severe in dense populations made possible by agriculture.

Hide All
Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. (2004) The evolution of strong reciprocity: Cooperation in heterogeneous populations. Theoretical Population Biology 65(1):1728.
Champagne, F. A. (2008) Epigenetic mechanisms and the transgenerational effects of maternal care. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 29:386. (Online article).
De Dreu, C. K., Greer, L. L., Handgraf, M. J., Shalvi, S., Van Kleer, G. A., Baas, M., Ten Velden, F. S., Van Dijk, E. & Feith, S. W. (2010) The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism in intergroup conflict among humans. Science 328(5984):1408–11.
Fouks, B., d'Ettorre, P. & Nehring, V. (2011) Brood adoption in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior: Adaptation or recognition noise? Insectes Sociaux 58(4):479–85.
Goodman, S. H., Rouse, M. H., Connell, A. M., Broth, M. R., Hall, C. M. & Heywood, D. (2011) Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 14(1):127.
Hill, K. R., Walker, R. S., Božičević, M., Eder, J., Headland, T., Hewlett, B., Hurtado, A. M., Marlowe, F., Wiessner, P. & Wood, B. (2011) Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure. Science 331(6022):1286–89. doi: 10.1126/science.1199071.
Insel, T. R. & Young, L. J. (2000) Neuropeptides and the evolution of social behavior. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 10(6):784–89.
Lederbogen, F., Kirsch, P., Haddad, L., Streit, F., Tost, H., Schuch, P., Wust, S., Pruessner, J. C., Rietschel, M., Deuschle, M. & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2011) City living and urban upbringing affect neural social stress processing in humans. Nature 474(7352):498501.
Lopes, J. F. S., Hughes, W. O. H., Camargo, R. S. & Forti, L. C. (2005) Larval isolation and brood care in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants. Insectes Sociaux 52(4):333–38.
Nehring, V., Evison, S. E., Santorelli, L. A., d'Ettore, P. & Hughes, W. O. (2011) Kin-informative recognition cues in ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278(1714):1942–48.
Peen, J., Schoevers, R. A., Schoevers, R. A., Beekman, A. T. & Dekker, J. (2010) The current status of urban-rural differences in psychiatric disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 121(2):8493.
Phillips, D. R. (1993) Urbanization and human health. Parasitology 106(Suppl. 1):S93S107.
Rand, D. G. & Nowak, M. A. (2013) Human cooperation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17(8):413–25.
Robertson, E., Grace, S., Wallington, T. & Stewart, D. E. (2004) Antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression: A synthesis of recent literature. General Hospital Psychiatry 26(4):289–95.
Schaal, B. & Porter, R. H. (2003) Olfaction and the development of social behavior in neonatal mammals. In: Handbook of olfaction and gustation, ed. Doty, R. L.. CRC Press. Available at:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed