Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5bf98f6d76-sglwb Total loading time: 0.733 Render date: 2021-04-22T12:35:02.990Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

The Foundations of Human Cooperation in Teaching and Imitation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2017

Kevin N. Laland
Affiliation:
University of St Andrews (UK)
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Humans exhibit extensive large-scale cooperation, of a form unprecedented in the natural world. Here I suggest that this cooperation arises in our species alone because of our uniquely potent capacities for social learning, imitation and teaching, combined with the co-evolutionary feedbacks that these capabilities have generated on the human mind. Culture took human populations down evolutionary pathways not available to non-cultural species, either by creating conditions that promoted established cooperative mechanisms, such as indirect reciprocity and mutualism, or by generating novel cooperative mechanisms not seen in other taxa, such as cultural group selection. In the process, gene-culture co-evolution seemingly generated an evolved psychology, comprising an enhanced ability and motivation to learn, teach, communicate through language, imitate and emulate, as well as predispositions to docility, social tolerance, and the sharing of goals, intentions and attention. This evolved psychology is entirely different from that observed in any other animal, or that could have evolved through conventional selection on genes alone.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Alexander, R. D. (1987). The biology of moral systems. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Bell, A. V., Richerson, P. J., & McElreath, R. (2009). Culture rather than genes provides greater scope for the evolution of large-scale human prosociality. Proceeding of the National Academic of Science, 106, 1767117674. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0903232106 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1985). Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1992). Punishment allows the evolution of cooperation (or anything else) in sizable groups. Ethology and Sociobiology, 13, 171195. https://doi.org/10.1016/0162-3095(92)90032-Y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brosnan, S. F., Wilson, B. J., & Beran, M. J. (2012). Old world monkeys are more like humans than New World monkeys when playing a coordination game. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279, 15221530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Byrne, R. W. (1994). The evolution of intelligence. In Slater, P. J. B. & Halliday, T. R. (Eds.), Behaviour and evolution (pp. 223265). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google ScholarPubMed
Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (1998). Distinguishing intentional from accidental actions in orangutans Pongo pygmaeus, chimpanzees (Pan-troglodytes) and human children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112, 192206. https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.112.2.192 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2008). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? 30 years later. Trends in Cognitive Science, 12, 187192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.010 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Call, J., Hare, B., Carpenter, M., & Tomasello, M. (2004). ‘Unwilling’ versus ‘unable’: Chimpanzees’ understanding of human intentional action. Developmental Science, 7, 488498.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Caro, T. M., & Hauser, M. D. (1992). Is there teaching in nonhuman animals? The Quarterly Review of Biology, 67, 151174. https://doi.org/10.1086/417553 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Castro, L., & Toro, M. A. (2004). The evolution of culture: From primate social learning to human culture. Proceeding of the National Academic of Science, 101, 1023510240. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0400156101 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carpenter, M., Uebel, J., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Being mimicked increases prosocial behaviour in 18- month-old infants. Child Development 84, 15111518.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 766, 893910. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.76.6.893 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chartrand, T. L., & van Baaren, R. (2009). Human mimicry. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 219274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chudek, M., & Henrich, J. (2011). Culture-gene coevolution, norm psychology and the emergence of human prosociality. Trends in Cognitive Science, 15, 218226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2011.03.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cooper, R. W. (1999). Coordination games: Complementarities and macroeconomics. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Csibra, G. (2010). Recognizing communicative intentions in infancy. Mind & Language, 25, 141168. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0017.2009.01384.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature 425, 785791. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02043 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fehr, E., & Gachter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature 415, 137140. https://doi.org/10.1038/415137a CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fogarty, L., Strimling, P., & Laland, K. N. (2011). The evolution of teaching. Evolution, 65, 27602770. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01370.x CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gergely, G., & Csibra, G. (2005). The social construction of the cultural mind: Imitative learning as a mechanism of human pedagogy. Interaction Studies, 6, 463481.Google Scholar
Gergely, G., Egyed, K., & Király, I. (2007). On pedagogy. Developmental Science, 10, 139146. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00576.x CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gintis, H. (2003). The hitchhiker’s guide to altruism: Gene-culture coevolution, and the internalization of norms. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 220, 407418. https://doi.org/10.1006/jtbi.2003.3104 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Haun, D. B. M., Rekers, Y., & Tomasello, M. (2012). Majority-biased transmission in chimpanzees and human children, but not orangutans. Current Biology, 22, 727731. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Henrich, J. (2004a). Demography and cultural evolution: Why adaptive cultural processes produced maladaptive losses in Tasmania. American Antiquity, 69, 197221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Henrich, J. (2004b). Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 53, 335. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-2681(03)00094-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Henrich, J. (2015). The secret of our success . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Henrich, J., & Boyd, R. (1998). The evolution of conformist transmission and between-group differences. Evolution and Human Behavior, 19, 215242. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-5138(98)00018-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Herrman, P. A., Legare, C. H., Harris, P. L., & Whitehouse, H. (2013). Stick to the script: The effect of witnessing multiple actors on children’s imitation. Cognition, 129, 536543. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.08.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heyes, C. M. (2005). Imitation by association. In Hurley, S. & Chater, N. (Eds.), Perspectives on imitation: From mirror neurons to memes (pp. 157176). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Heyes, C. M. (2012). What can imitation do for cooperation? In Calcott, B., Joyce, R., & Sterelny, K. (Eds.), Signalling, commitment & cooperation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Hill, K. R., Walker, R. S., Božičević, M., Eder, J., Headland, T., Hewllett, B., … Wood, B. (2011). Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure. Science, 331, 12861289. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1199071 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hoppitt, W., & Laland, K. N. (2008). Social processes influencing learning in animals: A review of the evidence. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 38, 105165. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-3454(08)00003-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoppitt, W., & Laland, K. N. (2011). Detecting social learning using networks: A user’s guide. American Journal of Primatology, 73, 834844. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.20920 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kinzler, K. D., Shutts, K., DeJesus, J., & Spelke, E. S. (2009). Accent trumps race in guiding children’s social preferences. Social Cognition, 27, 623634.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kline, M. A., Boyd, R., & Henrich, J. (2013). Teaching and the life history of cultural transmission in Fijian villages. Human Nature, 24, 351374. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-013-9180-1 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Laland, K. N. (2017). Darwin’s unfinished symphony: How culture made the human mind. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laland, K. N., & Bateson, P. P. G. (2001). The mechanisms of imitation. Cybernetics & Systems, 32, 195224.Google Scholar
Laland, K. N., Odling-Smee, J., & Myles, S. (2010). How culture shaped the human genome: Bringing genetics and the human sciences together. Nature Reviews Genetic, 11, 137148. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg2734 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Likowski, , et al. in Heyes C 2012. What can imitation do for cooperation? In Calcott, B., Joyce, R., & Sterelny, K. (Eds.), Signalling, commitment & cooperation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Marino, L. (2006). Absolute brain size: Did we throw the baby out with the bathwater? Proceeding of the National Academic of Science, 103, 1356313564. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0606337103 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Morgan, T. J. H., Rendell, L. E., Ehn, M., Hoppitt, W., & Laland, K. N. (2012). The evolutionary basis of human social learning. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279, 653662. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.1172 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nicol, C. J., & Pope, S. J. (1996). The maternal feeding display of domestic hens is sensitive to perceived chick error. Animal Behaviour, 52, 767774. https://doi.org/10.1006/anbe.1996.0221 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nowak, M., & Highfield, R. (2011). Super-cooperators: The mathematics of evolution, altruism and human behaviour or why we need each other to succeed. London, UK: Canongate.Google Scholar
Nowak, M. A., & Sigmund, K. (1998). Evolution of indirect reciprocity by image scoring. Nature, 393, 573577. https://doi.org/10.1038/31225 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pawlby, S. J. (1977). Imitative interaction. In Scaffer, H. (Ed.), Studies in mother-infant interaction (pp. 203224). New York, NY: Academic.Google Scholar
Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (1998). The evolution of human ultrasociality. In Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. & Salter, F. K. (Eds.), Indoctrinability, ideology, and warfare; evolutionary perspectives (pp. 7195). New York, NY: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (2005). Not by genes alone: How culture transformed human evolution. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Richerson, P. J., & Henrich, J. (2012). Tribal social instincts and the cultural evolution of institutions to solve collective action problems. Cliodynamics, 3, 3880. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1368756 Google Scholar
Richerson, P., Baldini, R., Bell, A. V., Demps, K., Frost, K., Hillis, V., … Zefferman, M. (2014). Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence. Behavioral Brain Science, 39, 171. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X1400106X Google Scholar
Ridley, M. (2011). The rational optimist. New York, NY: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
Rose, M. R., & Lauder, G. V. (1996). Adaptation. San Diego, CA: Academic.Google ScholarPubMed
Somel, M., Rohlfs, R., & Liu, X. (2014). Transcriptomic insights into human brain evolution: Acceleration, neutrality, heterochrony. Current Opinion in Genetic & Development, 29, 110119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gde.2014.09.001 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Stel, M., Blascovich, J., McCall, C., Mastop, J., Van Baaren, R. B., & Vonk, R. (2010). Mimicking disliked others: Effects of a priori liking on the mimicry-liking link. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 867880.Google Scholar
Sterelny, K. (2012). The evolved apprentice. Cambridge, MA: MIT.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Striedter, G. F. (2005). Principles of brain evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.Google ScholarPubMed
Tanner, R. J., Ferraro, R., Chartrand, T. L., Bettman, J. R., & van Baaren, R. (2008). Of chameleons and consumption: The impact of mimicry on choice and preferences. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 754766. https://doi.org/10.1086/522322 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tarr, B., Launay, J., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2014). Music and social bonding: ‘Self-other’ merging and neuorhormonal mechanisms. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1096. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01096 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tennie, C., Call, J., & Tomasello, M. (2009). Ratcheting up the ratchet: On the evolution of cumulative culture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societ B, 364, 24052415. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2009.0052 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thornton, A., & McAuliffe, K. (2006). Teaching in wild meerkats. Science, 313, 227229. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1128727 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Tomasello, M. (2008). Origins of human communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Tomasello, M. (2010). Human culture in evolutionary perspective. In Gelfand, M. J., Chui, C., & Hong, Y. (Eds.), Advances in culture and psychology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Tomasello, M., Hare, B., Lehmann, H., & Call, J. (2007). Reliance on head versus eyes in the gaze following of great apes and human infants: The cooperative eye hypothesis. Journal of Human Evolution, 52, 314320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.10.001 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Trivers, R. L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 46, 3557. https://doi.org/10.1086/406755 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Baaren, R. B., Holland, R. W., Kawakami, K., & van Knippenberg, A. (2004). Mimicry and prosocial behavior. Psychological Science, 15, 7174. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0963-7214.2004.01501012.x CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Baaren, R., Janssen, L., Chartrand, T. L., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2009). Where is the love? The social aspects of mimicry. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societ B, 364, 23812389. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2009.0057 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Schaik, C. P., & Burkart, J. M. (2011). Social learning and evolution: The cultural intelligence hypothesis. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Societ B, 366, 10081016. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0304 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Swol, L. M. (2003). The effects of nonverbal mirroring on perceived persuasiveness, agreement with an imitator, and reciprocity in a group discussion. Communication Research, 304, 461480. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650203253318 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wen, N., Herrman, P. A., & Legare, C. H. (2016). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 37, 5460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
West, S. A., Griffin, A. S., & Gardner, A. (2007). Social semantics: Altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20, 415432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01258.x CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
West, S. A., El Mouden, C., & Gardner, A. (2011). Sixteen common misconceptions about the evolution of cooperation in humans. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 32, 231262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.08.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yabar, Y., Johnston, L., Miles, L., & Peace, V. (2006). Implicit behavioral mimicry: Investigating the impact of group membership. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 30, 97113. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-006-0010-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 36
Total number of PDF views: 212 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 09th January 2017 - 22nd April 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Foundations of Human Cooperation in Teaching and Imitation
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The Foundations of Human Cooperation in Teaching and Imitation
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The Foundations of Human Cooperation in Teaching and Imitation
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *