Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sympathy and similarity: The evolutionary dynamics of cooperation

If we are to cooperate with those who carry our genes how can we do this?
The answer from commentary this week in PNAS is that we need to have a system for tagging people:

"The first to investigate a tag for altruism was W. D. Hamilton (2). He conceived
what he called a supergene, able to produce (i) a distinctive phenotypic
trait, (ii) the faculty to recognize the trait in others, and (iii) the propensity to
direct benefits toward bearers of that trait, even though this entails a fitness cost."

One way to tag genetically related people to cooperate with is to judge how similar a person's face is to your own according to a study last year in 'Evolution and Human Behaviour'.

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