A friend in need is a friend indeed: Need-based sharing, rather than cooperative assortment, predicts experimental resource transfers among Agta hunter-gatherers

Daniel Smith*, Mark Dyble, Katie Major, Abigail E. Page, Nikhil Chaudhary, Gul Deniz Salali, James Thompson, Lucio Vinicius, Andrea Bamberg Migliano, Ruth Mace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

8 Citations (Scopus)
152 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Despite much theorizing, the evolutionary reasons why humans cooperate extensively with unrelated individuals are still largely unknown. While reciprocity explains many instances of non-kin cooperation, much remains to be understood. A recent suite of models based upon ‘cooperative assortativity’ suggest that non-kin cooperation can evolve if individuals preferentially assort with certain cooperative phenotypes, such as helping those who help others. Here, we test these assortative hypotheses among the Agta, a population of Filipino hunter-gatherers, using an experimental resource allocation game in which individuals divide resources between themselves and camp-mates. Individuals preferentially shared with less cooperative individuals, arguing against cooperative assortativity as a mechanism sustaining resource transfers in this population. Rather, sharing was often based on the recipient's level of need, in addition to kin-based transfers and reciprocal sharing. Contrary to several recent theoretical accounts, in this real-world setting we find no evidence for cooperative assortativity influencing patterns of cooperation. These results may reflect the demands of living in a foraging ecology characterized by high resource stochasticity, necessitating need-based sharing as a system of long-term reciprocity to mitigate repeated subsistence shortfalls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-89
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date16 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Cooperation
  • Assortativity
  • Need-based sharing
  • Reciprocity
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Experimental games

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A friend in need is a friend indeed: Need-based sharing, rather than cooperative assortment, predicts experimental resource transfers among Agta hunter-gatherers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this