Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure

Kim Hill, Robert S. Walker, Miran Božičević, James Eder, Thomas Headland, Barry Hewlett, Ana Hurtado, Frank Marlowe, Pauline Wiessner, Brian Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

394 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contemporary humans exhibit spectacular biological success derived from cumulative culture and cooperation. The origins of these traits may be related to our ancestral group structure. Because humans lived as foragers for 95% of our species' history, we analyzed co-residence patterns among 32 present-day foraging societies (total n = 5067 individuals, mean experienced band size = 28.2 adults). We found that hunter-gatherers display a unique social structure where (i) either sex may disperse or remain in their natal group, (ii) adult brothers and sisters often co-reside, and (iii) most individuals in residential groups are genetically unrelated. These patterns produce large interaction networks of unrelated adults and suggest that inclusive fitness cannot explain extensive cooperation in hunter-gatherer bands. However, large social networks may help to explain why humans evolved capacities for social learning that resulted in cumulative culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1286-1289
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume331
Issue number6022
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 11 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Hill, K., Walker, R. S., Božičević, M., Eder, J., Headland, T., Hewlett, B., Hurtado, A., Marlowe, F., Wiessner, P., & Wood, B. (2011). Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure. Science, 331(6022), 1286-1289. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1199071