Document Detail

Cultural transmission can inhibit the evolution of altruistic helping.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18500938     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The study of culturally inherited traits has led to the suggestion that the evolution of helping behaviors is more likely with cultural transmission than without. Here we evaluate this idea through a comparative analysis of selection on helping under both genetic and cultural inheritance. We develop two simple models for the evolution of helping through cultural group selection: one in which selection on the trait depends solely on Darwinian fitness effects and one in which selection is driven by nonreproductive factors, specifically imitation of strategies achieving higher payoffs. We show that when cultural variants affect Darwinian fitness, the selection pressure on helping can be markedly increased relative to that under genetic transmission. By contrast, when variants are driven by nonreproductive factors, the selection pressure on helping may be reduced relative to that under genetic inheritance. This occurs because, unlike biological offspring, the spread of cultural variants from one group to another through imitation does not reduce the number of these variants in the source group. As a consequence, there is increased within-group competition associated with traits increasing group productivity, which reduces the benefits of helping. In these cases, selection for harming behavior (decreasing the payoff to neighbors) may occur rather than selection for helping.
Laurent Lehmann; Marcus W Feldman; Kevin R Foster
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American naturalist     Volume:  172     ISSN:  1537-5323     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. Nat.     Publication Date:  2008 Jul 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-06-16     Completed Date:  2008-10-27     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2984688R     Medline TA:  Am Nat     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  12-24     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Models, Theoretical
Grant Support

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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