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Abstract

Grief is a puzzling phenomenon. It is often costly and prolonged, potentially increasing mortality rates, drug abuse, withdrawal from social life, and susceptibility to illness. These costs cannot be repaid by the deceased and therefore might appear wasted. In the following article, we propose a possible solution. Using the principles of social selection theory, we argue that an important selective pressure behind the human grief response was the social decisions of other humans. We combine this with insights from signaling theory, noting that grief shares many properties with other hard-to-fake social signals. We therefore contend that grief was shaped by selective forces to function as a hard-to-fake signal of (a) a person's propensity to form strong, non-utilitarian bonds and (b) a person's current level of commitment to a group or cause. This theory explains many of the costly symptoms of grief and provides a progressive framework for future research.
... We consider that the CLCM offers a distal explanation (along with a more specific mechanism) to integrate current empirical findings from the psychology of death-related threat regulation. For instance, grief is an ubiquitous phenomenon among humans (Bonanno & Kaltman, 1999) and is theorized as a costly behavior enabling individuals to signal their levels of commitment to a group (or a cause), as well as their capacity to form strong nonutilitarian social bonds (see Winegard, Reynolds, Baumeister, Winegard, & Maner, 2014) to conspecifics. At the same time, noncostly grief-like behavior is seen in nonhuman primates (e.g., refusal to leave the corpse of a familiar individual) and is thought to facilitate reunification with a lost social partner, a behavior which is particularly maladaptive when the lost individual is dead (see . ...
... Other predictions that can be derived from the CLCM have already been corroborated such as the fact that grieving individuals are perceived as more prone to engage in social interactions and that perceivers of grieving targets are more willing to engage in social interaction with them (Winegard et al., 2014). ...
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Exposure to death-related threats, thoughts and cues (actual or anticipated death of conspecifics, including oneself) remain powerful stressors across primate species, including humans. Accordingly, a pervasive issue in psychology pertains to the kind of social–cognitive responses exposure to deadly threats generates. To this day, psychological models of reactions to death-related threats remain underspecified, especially with regards to modern evolutionary theory. Research on both humans and nonhuman primates’ reactions to death-related threats highlights a general tendency of human and nonhuman primates to “cling to the group” and to display increased social motivation in the face of death and deadly events (predator attacks, disasters, terror attacks. . .). Given the adaptive value of social networks, which provide individuals with resources, mating pool and support, we propose the existence of an evolved mechanism to explain these affiliative responses. In particular, we propose a “conspecific loss compensation mechanism” (CLCM) that actively keeps track of and compensates for threats to the integrity of one’s social network. In the face of death-related cues signaling a danger for one’s social network, or actual conspecific loss, CLCM triggers proportional affiliative responses by a process labeled compensatory socialization. After reviewing existing evidence for the CLCM, we discuss its plausibility, parsimonious character, and explanatory power of the diversity of responses observed among threatened and grieving individuals. We also formulate clear and novel predictions to be tested in future research.
... Quinn, 2019). These include culturally localized behaviors such as dueling (Allen & Reed, 2006), restrictions of female freedom (Rai & Sengupta, 2013), honor killings (Thrasher & Handfield, 2018), terrorism and political violence (Hoffman & McCormick, 2004;Lapan & Sandler, 1993;Pape, 2006), as well as broad categories of behavior such as aggression (Frank, 1988), grief (Winegard et al., 2014) and regret (Rosenstock & O'Connor, 2018). Others have argued that relatively costly activities widely assumed to be worthwhile, but for which the direct evidence of their success is often underwhelming (such as higher education and healthcare), can be explained as instances of costly signaling (Caplan, 2018;Hanson, 2008). ...
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This paper examines and contrasts two closely related evolutionary explanations in human behaviour: signalling theory, and the theory of Credibility Enhancing Displays (CREDs). Both have been proposed to explain costly, dangerous, or otherwise ‘extravagant’ social behaviours, especially in the context of religious belief and practice, and each have spawned significant lines of empirical research. However, the relationship between these two theoretical frameworks is unclear, and research which engages both of them (especially in systematic comparison) is largely absent. In this paper we seek to address this gap at the theoretical level, examining the core differences between the two approaches and prospects and conditions for future empirical testing. We clarify the dynamical and mechanistic bases of signalling and CREDs as explanatory models and contrast the previous uses to which they have been put in the human sciences. Because of idiosyncrasies regarding those uses (especially with signalling), several commonly supposed differences and comparative advantages are actually misleading and not in fact generalisable. We also show that signalling and CREDs theories as explanatory models are not interchangeable (or reducible to one another), because of deep structural differences. As we illustrate, the proposed causal networks of each theory are distinct, with important differences in the endogeneity of various phenomena within each model and their explanatory targets. As a result, they can be seen as complementary rather than in competition. We conclude by surveying the current state of the literature and identifying the differential predictions which could underpin more comprehensive empirical comparison in future research.
... Under this view, the criteria for labeling grief as a mental disorder may unfairly target specific subsets of bereaved people, such as grieving parents, and pathologize what are actually normal responses to severe or traumatic events (Thieleman & Cacciatore, 2014). Indeed, many evolutionary psychologists have suggested that grief-even when severe and prolonged-may usually be a normal, evolved emotional response to the death of a loved one (Archer, 2001;Hagen, 2011;Horwitz & Wakefield, 2007;Nesse, 2005;Winegard, Reynolds, Baumeister, Winegard, & Maner, 2014). Nevertheless, the ruminations that occur as part of the grief response have not been well-studied by evolutionary psychologists. ...
Article
There has been little evolutionarily oriented empirical research on the intense, repetitive thoughts—ruminations—that often occur during grief. We used evolutionary theory to develop a new instrument for evaluating grief-related rumination titled the Bereavement Analytical Rumination Questionnaire (BARQ) operationalized by two dimensions: root cause analysis (RCA), the analysis of the cause of the loss; and reinvestment analysis (RIA), the analysis of how to reinvest time and effort in meaningful (presumably fitness enhancing) activities. We administered the BARQ to a sample of people seeking help for grief from non-profit organizations (619 completers) and tested several evolutionary predictions about grief-related rumination. The sample had several signs of severe grief, making it clinically relevant (sleep disturbances, chronicity, psychotropic drug use). Rumination was higher among antidepressant users, suggesting that rumination is related to depression. We also found evidence that grief-related rumination is modulated by circumstances (e.g., type of loss, age and gender of the participant, age of the deceased, traumatic death), which suggests adaptive regulation. Our most important results are consistent with inclusive fitness theory. Specifically, the pattern suggests that as people grow older, they spend less time ruminating about the causes of direct fitness losses (the loss of their own children), and they spend more time ruminating about the causes of indirect fitness losses (e.g., the loss of young non-parental, non-offspring relatives). We also found a sex or gender difference in grief-related rumination that is consistent with other evidence that women have a greater impact on the survival of close relatives (particularly, children and grandchildren), as well as evidence that women have more to lose with the loss of a close social partner. Overall, we found little support for the hypothesis that grief-related rumination is disordered.
... The obvious doubt here is the degree of unfakeability of moral emotions: intense emotions like rage might be difficult to fake, but more everyday moral emotional displays, such as displaying concern with the interests or problems of others are eminently fakeable (many friendships would not last long if they were not). Even keeping that to one side, while people seem to be very good at discerning emotional states in a one-to-one situation, and while different emotional signals appear to be strongly cross-cultural with a few 63 Other than Frank's own work, the basic model has been invoked in a variety of ways (with various degrees of plausibility), in explanations of emotional traits such as grief (Winegard et al. 2014), aspects of romantic love and jealousy (Buss 2016), and aggression and vengeance in war (Boster, Yost, and Peeke 2003). exceptions, discerning emotion is not the same as discerning the motivation behind it. ...
Thesis
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The origins of human social cooperation confound simple evolutionary explanation. But from Darwin and Durkheim onwards, theorists (anthropologists and sociologists especially) have posited a potential link with another curious and distinctively human social trait that cries out for explanation: religion. This dissertation explores one contemporary theory of the co-evolution of religion and human social cooperation: the signalling theory of religion, or religious signalling theory (RST). According to the signalling theory, participation in social religion (and its associated rituals and sanctions) acts as an honest signal of one’s commitment to a religiously demarcated community and its way of doing things. This signal would allow prosocial individuals to positively assort with one another for mutual advantage, to the exclusion of more exploitative individuals. In effect, the theory offers a way that religion and cooperation might explain one another, but which that stays within an individualist adaptive paradigm. My approach is not to assess the empirical adequacy of the religious signalling explanation or contrast it with other explanations, but rather to deal with the theory in its own terms – isolating and fleshing out its core commitments, explanatory potential, and limitations. The key to this is acknowledging the internal complexities of signalling theory, with respect to the available models of honest signalling and the extent of their fit (or otherwise) with religion as a target system. The method is to take seriously the findings of formal modelling in animal signalling and other disciplines, and to apply these (and methods from the philosophy of biology more generally) to progressively build up a comprehensive picture of the theory, its inherent strengths and weaknesses. The first two chapters outline the dual explanatory problems that cooperation and religion present for evolutionary human science, and surveys contemporary approaches toward explaining them. Chapter three articulates an evolutionary conception of the signalling theory, and chapters four to six make the case for a series of requirements, limitations, and principles of application. Chapters seven and eight argue for the value of formal modelling to further flesh out the theory’s commitments and potential and describe some simple simulation results which make progress in this regard. Though the inquiry often problematizes the signalling theory, it also shows that it should not be dismissed outright, and that it makes predictions which are apt for empirical testing.
... Truchlící prostøednictvím tohoto signálu podává informace o tom, jakou má vazbu k lidem kolem sebe a zda je schopen navázat pevné a upøímné vztahy. Autoøi pøedpokládají, že lidé, jejichž reakce na ztrátu je delší a intenzivnìjší, budou svým okolím vnímáni jako loajálnìjší, Pøehledné èlánky upøímnìjší a celkovì lepší adepti pro navázání dlouhodobého partnerského vztahu (Winegard et al., 2014). ...
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SOUHRN Úmrtí blízké osoby často souvisí s projevy, které symptomaticky připomínají profil klinické deprese (intenzivní smutek, nespavost, anhedonie, zhoršená schopnost koncentrace či chuť k jídlu). Pokud tyto projevy trvají déle než 2 týdny, trpí pozůstalý podle kritérií nejnovější verze Diagnostického a statistického manuálu duševních poruch (DSM-5) velkou depresivní poruchou. Nebylo tomu tak ale vždy. V přehledovém článku představujeme proces, který v DSM-5 vedl k vyloučení kritéria, sloužícího k odlišení zármutku a klinické deprese. Kromě důvodů, proč uvažovat o truchlení jako o adaptivním procesu, představujeme rovněž teorie, které pojímají truchlení jako přirozený proces zastávající specifickou funkci. V závěru uvádíme pojetí truchlení podle MKN-10 a připravované MKN-11.
... Grief is an emotional response triggered by loss and characterised by active distress and passive depression, universal in human cultures but also seen in social mammals and some birds following the loss of a parent, mate or offspring (Archer, 1999). Explanatory hypotheses include a by-product of attachment, group cohesion, a death reminder, and an honest signal of commitment (reviewed in Winegard et al., 2014). Whatever the proximate/ultimate causation, it is clear that grief is primarily caused by the severance of social bonds, such as the death of a significant individual, and that grieving states described in the primate literature have a substantial resemblance to human grief (Sapolsky, 2016;Anderson, 2017). ...
Article
For the past two centuries, non‐human primates have been reported to inspect, protect, retrieve, carry or drag the dead bodies of their conspecifics and, for nearly the same amount of time, sparse scientific attention has been paid to such behaviours. Given that there exists a considerable gap in the fossil and archaeological record concerning how early hominins might have interacted with their dead, extant primates may provide valuable insight into how and in which contexts thanatological behaviours would have occurred. First, we outline a comprehensive history of comparative thanatology in non‐human primates, from the earliest accounts to the present, uncovering the interpretations of previous researchers and their contributions to the field of primate thanatology. Many of the typical behavioural patterns towards the dead seen in the past are consistent with those observed today. Second, we review recent evidence of thanatological responses and organise it into distinct terminologies: direct interactions (physical contact with the corpse) and secondary interactions (guarding the corpse, vigils and visitations). Third, we provide a critical evaluation regarding the form and function of the behavioural and emotional aspects of these responses towards infants and adults, also comparing them with non‐conspecifics. We suggest that thanatological interactions: promote a faster re‐categorisation from living to dead, decrease costly vigilant/caregiving behaviours, are crucial to the management of grieving responses, update position in the group's hierarchy, and accelerate the formation of new social bonds. Fourth, we propose an integrated model of Life‐Death Awareness, whereupon neural circuitry dedicated towards detecting life, i.e. the agency system (animate agency, intentional agency, mentalistic agency) works with a corresponding system that interacts with it on a decision‐making level (animate/inanimate distinction, living/dead discrimination, death awareness). Theoretically, both systems are governed by specific cognitive mechanisms (perceptual categories, associative concepts and high‐order reasoning, respectively). Fifth, we present an evolutionary timeline from rudimentary thanatological responses likely occurring in earlier non‐human primates during the Eocene to the more elaborate mortuary practices attributed to genus Homo throughout the Pleistocene. Finally, we discuss the importance of detailed reports on primate thanatology and propose several empirical avenues to shed further light on this topic. This review expands and builds upon previous attempts to evaluate the body of knowledge on this subject, providing an integrative perspective and bringing together different fields of research to detail the evolutionary, sensory/cognitive, developmental and historical/archaeological aspects of primate thanatology. Considering all these findings and given their cognitive abilities, we argue that non‐human primates are capable of an implicit awareness of death.
... Furthermore, as coalitions grew, the genetic relatedness of the individuals in the coalitions diminished. Reputation became increasingly important, perhaps leading to costly signals of prosociality (Jaeggi et al. 2010;Nesse 2007;Norenzayan and Shariff 2008;Winegard et al. 2014a). The ability to discriminate between cheaters and committed coalitional members almost certainly exerted more pressures on the brain (Pinker 2010). ...
Preprint
Humans create many apparently functionless artifacts such as paintings, novels, poems, films, and decorative blankets. From an evolutionary perspective, such creations appear somewhat puzzling. Why create artifacts that do not appear to contribute to survival? One recent explanation, the cultural courtship model, argued that such creations are used to signal genetic health to the other sex. In this way, cultural creators are potentially rewarded with higher quality mates. We propose an alternative (but not completely contradictory) model, the status competition model of cultural production, which argues that cultural displays often, but not exclusively, signal the possession of important cultural competencies to others in a coalition. Cultural creators are recompensed with prestige, which they can use to secure mates or invest in their kin and lineage. We examine evidence for and against these models, and conclude that the status competition model can better explain cultural production than current theory.
... Pedro's tearful commitment to God in Salgado marked a return to, as opposed to an initial conversion to, the faith. In the hyper-masculine world of the gang (Messerschmidt 1993), crying is costly and its display conveys information about an inmate's underlying pro-social proclivities (Winegard et al. 2014). But Pedro had to do more than break down and cry to convince his cellmates that his recommitment was sincere. ...
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Brazilian prisons are governed by two prevailing forces—gangs like the Comando Vermelho and inmate-led Pentecostal prison churches. The current study uncovers how one of these governance institutions (the church) facilitates disengagement from the other (the gang). Based on ethnographic research inside two Rio de Janeiro prisons, we find the rituals and taboos of the church—including baptism, daily worship service, sharing resources, loving and literally embracing other members, including outcast sex offenders—enable ex-gang members to demonstrate the sincerity of their disengagement from gangs. We make sense of these findings using signaling theory, which has been applied both to the study of gangs and crime desistance and to the study of religious commitment. Some implications for “gang redemption” policy and programming are discussed.
... Furthermore, as coalitions grew, the genetic relatedness of the individuals in the coalitions diminished. Reputation became increasingly important, perhaps leading to costly signals of prosociality (Jaeggi et al. 2010;Nesse 2007;Norenzayan and Shariff 2008;Winegard et al. 2014a). The ability to discriminate between cheaters and committed coalitional members almost certainly exerted more pressures on the brain (Pinker 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
Humans create many apparently functionless artifacts such as paintings, novels, poems, films, and decorative blankets. From an evolutionary perspective, such creations appear somewhat puzzling. Why create artifacts that do not appear to contribute to survival? One recent explanation, the cultural courtship model, argued that such creations are used to signal genetic health to the other sex. In this way, cultural creators are potentially rewarded with higher quality mates. We propose an alternative (but not completely contradictory) model, the status competition model of cultural production, which argues that cultural displays often, but not exclusively, signal the possession of important cultural competencies to others in a coalition. Cultural creators are recompensed with prestige, which they can use to secure mates or invest in their kin and lineage. We examine evidence for and against these models and conclude that the status competition model can better explain cultural production than current theory.
Article
Many Spanish chroniclers detail violent cultural practices of the indigenous populations they encountered in the Isthmo-Colombian Area; however, lack of physical evidence of interpersonal violence from archaeological contexts has made uncertain the veracity of these claims. At the precolumbian site of Playa Venado in Panama, these accounts of violent mortuary rituals may have influenced the interpretation of the burials encountered in excavations, leading to claims of mutilations and sacrifice, with little or no supporting evidence. This paper considers the physical evidence for interpersonal violence and sacrificial death at Playa Venado based on the burial positioning, demographic composition, and trauma present on the human remains recovered from the site. Analysis of field notes, excavation photos, and the 77 individuals available for study from the site yielded no evidence of perimortem trauma nor abnormal body positioning unexplained by taphonomy. The demography at the site tracked with normal patterns of natural age-at-death at the non-elite site of Cerro Juan Díaz rather than the abnormal patterns seen at the large ceremonial sites of Sitio Conte and El Caño. Therefore, we propose an alternative interpretation of the site as a non-elite cemetery containing evidence of re-use and secondary burial practices associated with ancestor veneration rituals.
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The idea that grief may be a useful biological trait that is shaped by natural selection seems both preposterous and somewhat cold-blooded. The over­ whelming pain and the inability to carry on with daily life after the loss of a loved one seem to be sufficient evidence that grief i. s useless. Also, the idea that the capacity for grief may exist because it somehow increases Darwinian fitness is deeply disturbing. Whether the grief is one' s own or that of a loved one, most people do not care why it exists; they just want to know how to relieve the pain. From another vantage point, however, grief is not only normal, it is an essential aspect of our humanness. Imagine, for a moment, that scientists discovered a drug that safely prevents grief and all its pain. If grief were just an abnormality or some useless evolutionary accident or social construction, then presumably it would be sensible and humane to encourage wide use of the drug to eliminate grief. To many, such a world would seem inhuman indeed. Vast suffering would be eliminated, but at what cost' We do not know, but most people instinctively recognize that grief is intertwined with the meaning of our relationships and our lives. The intensity and centrality of grief in human life have motivated many scientific studies about its nature. We now know a great deal about the symp­ toms and course of grief, who experiences it, and its complications. We are learning more about how grief varies across individuals and cultures. Many pervasive, but questionable, assumptions about grief are gradually giving way 195
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The hypothesis of group selection fell victim to a seemingly devastating critique in 1960s evolutionary biology. In Unto Others (1998), we argue to the contrary, that group selection is a conceptually coherent and empirically well documented cause of evolution. We suggest, in addition, that it has been especially important in human evolution. In the second part of Unto Others, we consider the issue of psychological egoism and altruism - do human beings have ultimate motives concerning the well-being of others? We argue that previous psychological and philosophical work on this question has been inconclusive. We propose an evolutionary argument for the claim that human beings have altruistic ultimate motives.
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In this study, we examined the violent death bereavement trajectories of 173 parents by following them prospectively for 5 years after their children's deaths by accident, suicide, homicide, or undetermined causes. Using latent growth curve methodology, we examined how the initial level of PTSD and the rate of change over time were influenced by 9 predictors: the deceased children's causes of death, parents' gender, self‐esteem, 3 coping strategies, perceived social support, concurrent levels of mental distress, and an intervention offered in early bereavement. Six of the nine factors predicted initial levels of PTSD: however, only parents' gender and perceived social support predicted change in PTSD over the 5‐year time. Five years postdeath, 3 times as many study mothers (27.7%) met diagnostic criteria for PTSD and twice as many study fathers (12.5%) met diagnostic criteria for PTSD compared with the normative samples.
Book
The Nature of Grief is a provocative new study on the evolution of grief. Most literature on the topic regards grief either as a psychiatric disorder or illness to be cured. In contrast to this, John Archer shows that grief is a natural reaction to losses of many sorts, even to the death of a pet, and he proves this by bringing together material from evolutionary psychology, ethology and experimental psychology. This innovative new work will be required reading for developmental and clinical psychologists and all those in the caring professions.
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Humans are unique in that they expend considerable effort and ingenuity in disposing of the dead. Some of the recognisable ways we do this are visible in the Palaeolithic archaeology of the Ice Age. The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial takes a novel approach to the long-term development of human mortuary activity - the various ways we deal with the dead and with dead bodies. It is the first comprehensive survey of Palaeolithic mortuary activity in the English language. Observations in the modern world as to how chimpanzees behave towards their dead allow us to identify 'core' areas of behaviour towards the dead that probably have very deep evolutionary antiquity. From that point, the palaeontological and archaeological records of the Pliocene and Pleistocene are surveyed. The core chapters of the book survey the mortuary activities of early hominins, archaic members of the genus Homo, early Homo sapiens, the Neanderthals, the Early and Mid Upper Palaeolithic, and the Late Upper Palaeolithic world. Burial is a striking component of Palaeolithic mortuary activity, although existing examples are odd and this probably does not reflect what modern societies believe burial to be, and modern ways of thinking of the dead probably arose only at the very end of the Pleistocene. When did symbolic aspects of mortuary ritual evolve? When did the dead themselves become symbols? In discussing such questions, The Palaeolithic Origins of Human Burial offers an engaging contribution to the debate on modern human origins. It is illustrated throughout, includes up-to-date examples from the Lower to Late Upper Palaeolithic, including information hitherto unpublished.
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What makes us human? Why do people think, feel, and act as they do? What is the essence of human nature? What is the basic relationship between the individual and society? These questions have fascinated people for centuries. Now, at last, there is a solid basis for answering them, in the form of the accumulated efforts and studies by thousands of psychology researchers. We no longer have to rely on navel-gazing and speculation to understand why people are the way they are; we can instead turn to solid, objective findings. This book not only summarizes what we know about people; it also offers a coherent, easy-to-understand though radical, explanation. Turning conventional wisdom on its head, the author argues that culture shaped human evolution. Contrary to theories that depict the individual's relation to society as one of victimization, endless malleability, or just a square peg in a round hole, he proposes that the individual human being is designed by nature to be part of society. Moreover, he argues that we need to briefly set aside the endless study of cultural differences to look at what most cultures have in common; because that holds the key to human nature. Culture is in our genes, although cultural differences may not be. This core theme is further developed by a tour through the main dimensions of human psychology. What do people want? How do people think? How do emotions operate? How do people behave? And how do they interact with each other? The answers are often surprising, and along the way, the author explains how human desire, thought, feeling, and action are connected.