Ruth Mace

Ruth Mace
University College London | UCL · Department of Anthropology

Zoology (BA Oxon), Zoology (D.Phil Oxon)

About

296
Publications
97,968
Reads
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11,608
Citations
Citations since 2016
103 Research Items
5535 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
20162017201820192020202120220200400600800
Introduction
Ruth Mace currently works at the Department of Anthropology, University College London.
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
Lanzhou University
Position
  • Professor
January 2014 - December 2015
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Position
  • Professor
January 2008 - present

Publications

Publications (296)
Preprint
Costly rituals convey the commitment to communities and advertise trustworthiness and cooperativeness to peers, which might explain why humans perform costly religious rituals. Here, we compare the efficacy of occasional public displays versus regular but less public acts for prestige enhancement. We collected data on religious practices ranging fr...
Preprint
Many have attempted to explain the evolutionary origins of religion and some suggest that religiosity promotes cooperation. But the empirical works evaluating the links between religious practices and social cooperative networks have been surprisingly few, and whether religious celibacy helps structure local social support remains to explore. Here,...
Chapter
Human culture changes over time and varies across space. Two main approaches to study cultural evolution have developed in the last fifty years: human behavioural ecology and a suite of perspectives centred on the role of cultural transmission. The latter are often confusingly referred to with the name of the phenomenon they are trying to explain,...
Article
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According to Hamilton's rule, matrilineal-biased investment restrains men in matrilineal societies from maximizing their inclusive fitness (the “matrilineal puzzle”). A recent hypothesis argues that when women breed communally and share household resources, a man should help his sisters’ household, rather than his wife's household, as investment to...
Article
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Why parents in some societies induce some of their sons to become religious celibates is an evolutionary puzzle. Some have speculated that this might be associated with brother competition for family resources. However, the behavioral ecology of monks and the possible links with competition between brothers remain unexplored. Here, we use demograph...
Article
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The influence of inclusive fitness interests on the evolution of human institutions remains unclear. Religious celibacy constitutes an especially puzzling institution, often deemed maladaptive. Here, we present sociodemographic data from an agropastoralist Buddhist population in western China, where parents sometimes sent a son to the monastery. We...
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Human parents require significant support to raise multiple, highly dependent offspring. Grandmothers are often highlighted as key allomothers (non-maternal caregivers) and their presence is frequently associated with increased child survivorship, leading some to describe humans as cooperative breeders. Equally well documented is the diversity of h...
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Background: Violence against women is often studied in the context of violence from intimate partners. However, women receive violence from a wider range of individuals-such as their natal kin-including their siblings, parents, uncles and cousins. Applying insights from evolutionary theory, we examine whether cousin marriage, which has been hypoth...
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There is significant cross-cultural variation in the sex of individuals most likely to be accused of practising witchcraft. Allegations of witchcraft might be a mechanism for nullifying competitors so resources they would have used become available to others. In this case, who is targeted may result from patterns of competition and conflict (same-s...
Article
The term cultural evolution has become popular in the evolutionary human sciences, but it is often unclear what is meant by it. This is generating confusion and misconceptions that are hindering progress in the field. These include the claim that behavioral ecology disregards culture. We argue that these misunderstandings are caused by the unhelpfu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Examining development is essential for a full understanding of behaviour, including how individuals acquire traits and how adaptive evolutionary forces shape these processes. The present study explores cooperative development among the Agta, a Filipino hunter-gatherer population. A simple resource allocation game assessing both levels of cooperatio...
Preprint
Inequality between the sexes is pervasive both outside and inside the home. One contributing factor could be the dispersal of one sex at marriage that sets up sex-specific differences in relatedness to the group. Here we exploit the ecological diversity and different social structures found in southwest China to investigate the role of sex-biased d...
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Article
Sex-biased dispersal has long been of interest to anthropologists and biologists, as it can structure populations and determine patterns of kinship, relatedness and cooperation. In most contemporary human societies, females usually disperse at marriage. In a minority of human societies, male dispersal, bisexual philopatry, or both sexes dispersing...
Preprint
The influence of inclusive fitness interests on the evolution of human institutions remains unclear. Religious celibacy constitutes an especially puzzling institution, often deemed maladaptive. Here, we present sociodemographic data from an agropastoralist Buddhist population in western China, where parents sometimes sent a son to the monastery. We...
Article
Kin selection means that individuals can increase their own inclusive fitness through displaying more altruistically toward their relatives. So, Hamilton’s rule says kin selection will work if the coefficient of relatedness exceeds the cost-to-benefit ratio of the altruistic act. However, some studies have shown that the kin competition due to the...
Article
Full-text available
Within evolutionary sciences, care towards younger kin is well understood from an inclusive fitness framework, but why adults would care for older relatives has been less well researched. One existing model has argued that care directed towards elderly parents might be adaptive because of their benefits as carers themselves, with their help freeing...
Article
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Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons has often been cited as the rationale for the privatization of pastures throughout the world, yet rangeland degradation is still widespread. A significant body of ecological research has demonstrated negative impacts from limiting herd movement through fencing. The privatization of pastures has often followed heterog...
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Beliefs about the fate of humanity and the soul after death may structure behaviours of religious groups. Here we test theories from religious studies: that belief in an imminent apocalypse co-evolved with and facilitated revolutionary violence, whereas belief in reincarnation caused people to acquiesce to existing social orders and withdraw from p...
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Cultural diversity is disappearing quickly. Whilst a phylogenetic approach makes explicit the continuous extinction of cultures, and the generation of new ones, cultural evolutionary changes such as the rise of agriculture or more recently colonisation can cause periods of mass cultural extinction. At the current rate, 90% of languages will become...
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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Many women going through the menopausal transition experience vasomotor symptoms (VMS), and research has shown that there is a large amount of variation in their frequency and severity. Many lifestyle factors have been found to co-vary with VMS, including the level of social support received by the woman, and how stressed she is. Stress is well doc...
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An accurate reconstruction of Sino-Tibetan language evolution would greatly advance our understanding of East Asian population history. Two recent phylogenetic studies attempted to do so but several of their conclusions are different from each other. Here we reconstruct the phylogeny of the Sino-Tibetan language family, using Bayesian computational...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought science into the public eye and to the attention of governments more than ever before. Much of this attention is on work in epidemiology, virology, and public health, with most behavioural advice in public health focussing squarely on ‘proximate’ determinants of behaviour. While epidemiological models are powerful...
Chapter
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Here I describe the reasoning behind dividing explanations for the evolution of behaviour into four different levels of explanation, two relating to proximate explanations relating to mechanism and development, and two ultimate explanations relating to evolutionary history and function. I outline the basic methods we can use to attempt to test func...
Article
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Studies show that fathers across Western populations tend to provide more care to sons than daughters. Following a human behavioral ecological framework, we hypothesize that son-biases in fathering may (at least in part) be due to differences in fitness returns to paternal direct investments by child’s sex. In this study, we investigate sex-differe...
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Editorial – The future depends on how we choose to behave - Volume 2 - Ruth Mace
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It is often observed that married women have a later age of natural menopause (ANM) than unmarried women; however, the reason for this association is unknown. We test an original hypothesis that sexual frequency acts as a bio-behavioural mediator between marital status and ANM. We hypothesize that there is a trade-off between continued ovulation an...
Article
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All human females who reach midlife experience menopause, however, it is currently unclear why women experience this period of infertility, and why it is accompanied by many unpleasant symptoms. Using primary data from four ethnic groups in China, we test an existing theory that age of menopause and its symptoms are the result of intragenomic confl...
Chapter
This chapter demonstrates how evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace applauds Robert Boyd's multidisciplinary approach to the study of human evolution, while stressing her own belief in the importance of empirical testing. She points out that many questions remain about how norms arise, why they vary, “how they are maintained, and how easily they ch...
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Human children are frequently cared for by non-parental caregivers (alloparents), yet few studies have conducted systematic alternative hypothesis tests of why alloparents help. Here we explore whether predictions from kin selection, reciprocity, learning-to-mother and costly signalling hypotheses explain non-parental childcare among Agta hunter-ga...
Chapter
Full-text available
In evolutionary anthropology, kinship studies generally address how human families and social organization arose, in response to natural selection. Inclusive fitness is a measure of number of offspring (direct fitness) and the number of relatives born, weighted by relatedness (indirect fitness). Models that maximize the benefits of any interaction,...
Article
Full-text available
A hypothesis for the evolution of long post-reproductive lifespans in the human lineage involves asymmetries in relatedness between young immigrant females and the older females in their new groups. In these circumstances, inter-generational reproductive conflicts between younger and older females are predicted to resolve in favour of the younger f...
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Reputational considerations favour cooperation and thus we expect less cooperation in larger communities where people are less well known to each other. Some argue that institutions are, therefore, necessary to coordinate large-scale cooperation, including moralizing religions that promote cooperation through the fear of divine punishment. Here, we...
Article
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We examined how individual investment was associated with the duration of marriage partnerships in a pastoralist society of Amdo Tibetans in China. We collected demographic and socioeconomic data from 420 women and 369 men over five villages to assess which factors predicted partnership length. We found that the payment of dowry and bridewealth fro...
Preprint
Full-text available
A hypothesis for the evolution of long post-reproductive lifespans in the human lineage involves asymmetries in relatedness between young immigrant females and the older females in their new groups. In these circumstances, inter-generational reproductive conflicts between younger and older females are predicted to resolve in favor of the younger fe...
Article
Full-text available
Pastoralists rely on networks of cooperating households containing relatives and others to help with production and various other daily activities. To understand how socioecological differences and commonalities affect different social networks, we compared cooperative decision-making using gift games for 755 people working in herding groups across...
Data
Table S1. Population of sampled sites, total population, and number of participants in the study (n). Figure S1. Table S2.1. Demographic profile of 451 sample donors from nine villages. Table S2.2. Sample information by sex. Figure S2.1. Percentage of participants by sex in each village. Figure S2.2. Age of participants by sex. Figure S2.3. Proport...
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The genetic trait of lactase persistence (LP) evolved as an adaptation to milking pastoralism in the Old World and is a well‐known example of positive natural selection in humans. However, the specific mechanisms conferring this selective advantage are unknown. To understand the relationship between milk drinking, LP, growth, reproduction, and surv...
Preprint
Preprint available: https://osf.io/q6fpx/ Fathers in Western populations tend to provide more care to sons than daughters. Following a Human Behavioural Ecological framework, we hypothesise that son-biases in fathering may (at least in part) be due to differences in the “returns to paternal caregiving” on children’s outcomes by sex. In this study...
Article
Full-text available
In evolutionary anthropology, kinship studies generally address how human families and social organization arose, in response to natural selection. Inclusive fitness is a measure of number of offspring (direct fitness) and the number of relatives born, weighted by relatedness (indirect fitness). Models that maximize the benefits of any interaction,...
Article
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 indiv...
Article
Full-text available
The relative importance of social evolution theories such as kin selection, direct reciprocity and need-based transfers in explaining real-world cooperation is the source of much debate. Previous field studies of cooperation in human communities have revealed variability in the extent to which each of these theories explains human sociality in diff...
Cover Page
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Juan Du's photo makes the cover of Behavioural Ecology
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Anthropologists have long argued that fear of victimization through witchcraft accusations promotes cooperation in small-scale societies1. Others have argued that witchcraft beliefs undermine trust and therefore reduce social cohesion2. However, there are very few, if any, quantified empirical examples demonstrating how witchcraft labels can struct...
Article
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Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we examined both stated norms of sex preference and actual sex-biases in parental investment in a Tibetan pastoralist society. We collected detailed demographic data on infant mortality, infant feeding, the length of interbirth intervals, and a decision when giving gifts, to examine sex-biased parental investment. Our results indicat...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence from animal species indicates that a male-biased adult sex ratio (ASR) can lead to higher levels of male parental investment and that there is heterogeneity in behavioural responses to mate scarcity depending on mate value. In humans, however, there is little consistent evidence of the effect of the ASR on pair-bond stability and parental...
Article
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Individuals’ centrality in their social network (who they and their social ties are connected to) has been associated with fertility, longevity, disease and information transmission in a range of taxa. Here, we present the first exploration in humans of the relationship between reproductive success and different measures of network centrality of 39...
Article
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Social networks in modern societies are highly structured, usually involving frequent contact with a small number of unrelated ‘friends’ 1 . However, contact network structures in traditional small-scale societies, especially hunter-gatherers, are poorly characterized. We developed a portable wireless sensing technology (motes) to study within-camp...
Article
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Evolutionary theory predicts that humans should adjust their life-history strategies in response to local ecological threats and opportunities in order to maximize their reproductive success. Cues representing threats to individuals’ lives and health in modern, Western societies may come in the form of local ages at death, morbidity rate and crime...
Data
Personal Experience of Crime. Regression models testing effect of personal exposure to crime on perceived personal safety
Data
Correlation of Crime. Correlation of violent and sexual crime with other types of crime and crime score at the ward-level
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Adolescent sexual behaviour may show clustering in neighbourhoods, schools and friendship networks. This study aims to assess how experience with sexual intercourse clusters across the social world of adolescents and whether predictors implicated by life history theory or personality traits can account for its between-individual variation and socia...
Data
Table S1. Comparison of baseline characteristics for analysis and attrition sample. The attrition sample consists of all individuals (singleton births) in the core ALSAC sample who were alive at 1 year but not included in the analysis sample.
Article
Full-text available
Many social interactions create a tension between individual and collective interests, known as social dilemmas. Pastoralists, whose livelihoods depend on cooperation within and between herding groups, face a range of social dilemmas in their daily lives. Evolutionary theory predicts that social dilemmas will be solved (i.e. individuals will cooper...
Article
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Humans possess the unique ability for cumulative culture [1, 2]. It has been argued that hunter-gatherer's complex social structure [3-9] has facilitated the evolution of cumulative culture by allowing information exchange among large pools of individuals [10-13]. However, empirical evidence for the interaction between social structure and cultural...
Article
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Many defining human characteristics including theory of mind, culture and language relate to our sociality, and facilitate the formation and maintenance of cooperative relationships. Therefore, deciphering the context in which our sociality evolved is invaluable in understanding what makes us unique as a species. Much work has emphasised group-leve...
Article
Like many other mammalian and primate societies [1–4], humans are said to live in multilevel social groups, with individuals situated in a series of hierarchically structured sub-groups [5, 6]. Although this multilevel social organization has been described among contemporary hunter-gatherers [5], questions remain as to the benefits that individual...
Article
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Humans regularly cooperate with non-kin, which has been theorized to require reciprocity between repeatedly interacting and trusting individuals. However, the role of repeated interactions has not previously been demonstrated in explaining real-world patterns of hunter–gatherer cooperation. Here we explore cooperation among the Agta, a population o...
Data
File 1: Supplementary Material Section 1: Study Population Section 2: Game Rationale and Data Collection Section 3: Camp Stability Measure Section 4: Statistical Analyses Section 5: Camp Stability and Foraging Return Rates Tables S1–S7 Figures S1 & S2