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The Architecture of Human Kin Detection


Abstract and Figures

Evolved mechanisms for assessing genetic relatedness have been found in many species, but their existence in humans has been a matter of controversy. Here we report three converging lines of evidence, drawn from siblings, that support the hypothesis that kin detection mechanisms exist in humans. These operate by computing, for each familiar individual, a unitary regulatory variable (the kinship index) that corresponds to a pairwise estimate of genetic relatedness between self and other. The cues that the system uses were identified by quantitatively matching individual exposure to potential cues of relatedness to variation in three outputs relevant to the system's evolved functions: sibling altruism, aversion to personally engaging in sibling incest, and moral opposition to third party sibling incest. As predicted, the kin detection system uses two distinct, ancestrally valid cues to compute relatedness: the familiar other's perinatal association with the individual's biological mother, and duration of sibling coresidence.
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The architecture of human kin detection
Debra Lieberman
, John Tooby
& Leda Cosmides
Evolved mechanisms for assessing genetic relatedness have been found in many species, but their existence in humans has
been a matter of controversy. Here we report three converging lines of evidence, drawn from siblings, that support the
hypothesis that kin detection mechanisms exist in humans. These operate by computing, for each familiar individual, a
unitary regulatory variable (the kinship index) that corresponds to a pairwise estimate of genetic relatedness between self
and other. The cues that the system uses were identified by quantitatively matching individual exposure to potential cues of
relatedness to variation in three outputs relevant to the system’s evolved functions: sibling altruism, aversion to personally
engaging in sibling incest, and moral opposition to third party sibling incest. As predicted, the kin detection system uses two
distinct, ancestrally valid cues to compute relatedness: the familiar other’s perinatal association with the individual’s
biological mother, and duration of sibling coresidence.
For the past 50 years, evolutionary biologists have argued that
genetic relatedness should have played a role in the social evolution
of species, such as humans, in which close genetic relatives frequently
. According to kin selection theory, computational variants
that allocate altruistic effort effectively with respect to kinship out-
compete variants that fail to regulate behaviour conditionally in
response to relatedness. The effects of relatedness have been docu-
mented in a great diversity of taxa, ranging from social amoebas
social insects
and shrimp
, to birds
, aphids
, plants
, rodents
and primates
. To regulate behaviour conditionally in response to
different degrees of kinship, organisms require mechanisms to dis-
criminate genetic relatedness. Such mechanisms have been discov-
ered in a variety of nonhuman species
Equally, in long-lived, low-fecundity species with an open breed-
ing structure (such as humans), the fitness of offspring is strongly
affected by how closely parents are related. In such species, concept-
ive sexual behaviour between close genetic relatives produces off-
spring that suffer from inbreeding depression—a decline in fitness
caused by rendering more deleterious recessives homozygous
and aggravated by parasites targeting more genetically homogeneous
sets of hosts
. Consequently, heritable variants that cost-effectively
reduce inbreeding depression by avoiding mating with close genetic
relatives outcompete variants in which mating decisions are un-
affected by relatedness.
The socioecology and population biology of human foragers
suggest that our ancestors would have been subject both to inbreed-
ing depression and kin selection. This leads to the prediction that
humans have an evolved system for detecting genetic relatedness,
coupled to two output systems: one regulating altruism, the other
regulating mate choice. Yet, there has been little research into the
existence and design of human kin detection mechanisms
The best-known exceptions are a handful of anthropological stud-
ies testing Westermarck’s prescient 1891 hypothesis
that mutual
exposure during childhood weakens sexual attraction among adults.
These documented that non-relatives raised together in exceptional
developmental circumstances (for example, cre
`che-mates or children
cohabiting with future spouses) show lower rates of marriage or
marital fertility, and higher rates of divorce and infidelity—archivally
derived sociological measures used as proxies for the intensity of
sexual desire
. But to map the information-processing architecture
of a system predicted to detect genetic relatedness—and see whether
it regulates altruistic as well as sexual motivation—it is necessary to
measure the responses of living individuals drawn from a more
species-characteristic range of family compositions, such as those
that include actual genetic relatives.
Accordingly, the goal of the studies reported here was to test for the
existence of a human kin detection system, and to test a series of basic
predictions about its design features and architecture. It is ethically
unacceptable to subject humans to the life-changing experimental
manipulations used to discover kin detection systems in other spe-
cies. So the architecture was mapped by quantitatively matching
individual variation in the two predicted output systems—sibling
altruism and opposition to incest—to naturally generated individual
variation in developmental parameters that were predicted to serve as
cues of relatedness.
Model of architecture and predictions
We propose that, for each familiar individual, i, the kin detection
system computes and updates a continuous variable, the kinship
index, KI
, that corresponds to the system’s pairwise estimate of
genetic relatedness between self and i. These computational elements
are regulatory variables that serve as input to neural programs regu-
lating altruism towards iand, separately, to programs regulating
sexual behaviour towards i.
Because relatedness cannot be directly observed, the system must
be designed to register cues relevant to determining relatedness. To
compute the kinship index, the system requires (1) monitoring cir-
cuitry designed to register cues to relatedness, and (2) a computa-
tional device, the kinship estimator, whose procedures have been
tuned by a history of selection to take these registered inputs and
transform them into a kinship index.
The cues the system uses cannot simply be derived ontogenetically
(‘learned’) by identifying which arbitrary and transient cues happen
to best predict relatedness in the local environment. To do this, the
system would have to already know the relatedness of others—the
very problem it needs to solve. Instead, the kin detection system must
contain within its evolved design a specification of the core cues that
it will use to determine relatedness—cues that reliably tracked genetic
relatedness in the ancestral social environments that selected for the
kin detection system.
Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
96822, USA.
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15 February 2007
©2007 Publishing Group
For human foragers, a potentially informative cue to kinship is
provided by the close perinatal association between mother and neo-
nate that begins with birth and is enforced by the exigencies of early
mammalian maternal care. Maternal perinatal association (MPA)
provides a basis for the reliable mutual detection of mother and
offspring and can, in turn, be used as an anchor point for sibling
detection. Ancestrally, if an individual observed an infant in a dur-
able, perinatal association with the individual’s mother, then it was
highly probable that that infant was the individual’s sibling. We
therefore proposed that sibling detection includes a monitoring sub-
system specialized for registering MPA.
Although MPA is likely to be the single most informative cue, it
cannot be used (for example) by younger siblings, because they are
not alive at the time their older siblings are born and nursed. When
MPA is unavailable, the kinship estimator should fall back on other
cues that were highly predictive ancestrally. We predicted that the kin
detection system would include a second subsystem specialized for
registering the cumulative duration of coresidence summed over the
full period they receive parental care. Ancestrally, parents (especially
mothers) maintained close association with their children to care for
them, and for this reason siblings co-associate statistically more than
non-siblings. (Indeed, given the fusion–fission pattern of hunter–
gatherer association, this same variable should—to some extent—
link progressively more distant genetic relatives to increasingly
diluted motivational residues.) Among human foragers, the main-
tenance of parental proximity for care delivery begins with birth and
tapers off in late adolescence, a time when offspring become nearly
independent adult foragers and when mating motivates new patterns
of co-association
. Although this hypothesis differs from the etho-
logical proposal of a period of early childhood imprinting
consistent with evidence that suggests that familiarity is a cue medi-
ating kin detection in non-human primates
The kinship estimator consists of algorithms for transforming the
registered cues into the kinship index, a variable whose magnitude
tracks relatedness between self and other. If the cues are integrated
into a single index, then we should find that the same patterns of
inputs are associated with the same patterns of outputs for both
altruism and sexual aversion. This model (summarized in Fig. 1)
leads to the following predictions.
(1) When MPA is absent, coresidence duration before adulthood
with an individual should (a) upregulate altruism towards that indi-
vidual, (b) upregulate sexual aversion towards that individual, and,
as a by-product, (c) upregulate moral opposition
to third-party
sibling incest.
(2) When MPA is present, it should produce the same three effects.
Selection should have tuned the procedures in the kinship estim-
ator to use MPA and coresidence in a way that takes account of
their relative informativeness and availability. Because MPA is the
more robust, higher quality cue, we expect that when both are
available, coresidence will be weighted by the kinship estimator far
less than MPA, and perhaps not at all. Therefore, we propose a third
(3) When MPA is present, coresidence duration will not be as
strong a predictor of altruistic motivations and sexual aversions.
That is, the kinship estimator will use MPA in preference to coresi-
dence duration in computing kinship.
Empirical investigation
Multiple, converging tests involving over 600 subjects were employed
to assess whether particular developmental parameters (including
MPA and coresidence duration) serve as cues to kinship and regulate
both kin-directed altruism and sexual avoidance. Participants
responded to questions regarding family composition and sibling
interactions and were asked to complete instruments measuring:
(1) frequency of altruistic behaviours towards a given sibling; (2)
the intensity of altruistic motivation towards a given sibling; (3)
the level of disgust evoked by the prospect of engaging in sexual acts
with a given sibling, and (4) how morally wrong they perceive sibling
incest among third parties to be (an unobtrusive measure of sexual
aversion towards siblings
The most important findings are displayed in Figs 2 and 3, which
show that each of the two predicted cues of genetic relatedness for
siblings—coresidence duration and maternal perinatal association—
regulate outputs from the two functionally independent motiva-
tional systems (altruism and incest aversion) in the predicted way.
(see Supplementary Information section 1).
monitoring circuitry
Programs regulating
sexual attraction
Programs regulating
altruistic behaviour
Maternal perinatal
monitoring circuitry
Additional cue monitoring circuitry
(major histocompatibility complex?
Figure 1
Proposed model of the computational architecture of sibling
detection. Cues to kinship are registered by cue monitoring circuits, which
deliver their outputs to a kinship estimator. The kinship estimator uses these
cues to compute the magnitude of a regulatory variable—a kinship index—
for each individual, i, who is a potential sibling. The kinship index feeds into
programs that regulate sibling altruism and sexual aversion.
Effect size: coresidence duration
MPA absent
(for example, detection of
older sibs)
MPA present
(for example, detection of
younger sibs)
Altruism (behavioural)
Altruism (dispositional)
Moral opposition to incest
Sexual disgust (rank)
Sexual disgust (Likert; men)
Figure 2
Converging evidence indicates that the same computational
variable, the kinship index, regulates disparate kin-relevant behaviours.
The x-axis divides subjects into two groups—those who observed their
mothers caring for their sibling as a neonate (MPA cue present) and those
who did not (MPA cue absent). The y-axis shows the size of the correlation
between coresidence duration and each dependent measure. Duration of
coresidence predicts, with similar effect sizes, altruism and sexual aversions
only when the cue of maternal perinatal association (MPA) is absent, as it is
when younger siblings are detecting older ones. When the MPA cue is
present, coresidence duration fails to predict sibling directed behaviours.
This pattern appears for all measures: behavioural altruism, dispositional
altruism, sexual disgust and moral judgments of sibling incest. Adaptive
regulation of two distinct motivational output systems by the same pattern
of inputs implicates a common underlying regulatory variable (see also
Supplementary Information section 7).
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The overall pattern of results was the same for men and women.
For this reason, results are reported for both sexes combined, unless
otherwise specified (see Methods).
When MPA is absent. When the MPA cue is absent—as is true
whenever youngers are detecting older siblings—coresidence dura-
tion significantly predicts altruistic motivations and, separately,
opposition to first and third person incest (Fig. 2). Subject’s duration
of coresidence with a particular sibling was positively correlated
with all outcome measures: how much the subject helps that sibling
(altruism: behavioural, P56310
(or 8 310
, see Methods and
Supplementary Information section 9), N5185; dispositional,
(9 310
), N5185); how disgusted the subject is at
imagining sexual contact with that (opposite sex) sibling (sexual
disgust (rank), P50.0002 (0.0003), N5114; sexual disgust
(Likert; men), P50.0007 (0.0009), N5156, see Methods); and
how morally wrong the subject judges third party sibling incest
(moral opposition to incest, P50.003 (0.004), N547; see also refs
28, 29). Figure 2 shows that the effect sizes (r) for coresidence are very
similar across widely divergent outcome variables, as would be
expected if separate systems for altruism and sexual aversion were
being regulated by the same internal variable, a kinship index.
When MPA is present. When the MPA cue is present—which can
only be true for olders detecting younger siblings—levels of altruism
and sexual aversion are high (Supplementary Information section 1).
But in the presence of MPA, coresidence duration no longer predicts
a single outcome measure (effect sizes ,0; Fig. 2; Supplementary
Information section 2). Directed univariate analyses show that
MPA and coresidence interact (sexual disgust (Likert; men),
P50.02; sexual disgust (rank), P50.003; altruism (see Methods),
P50.03; moral opposition, P50.12; see Supplementary Infor-
mation section 1); the dramatic drop in effect sizes (all significant;
Supplementary Information section 2) seen in Fig. 2 demonstrates
that coresidence duration robustly affects altruism and sexual aver-
sion in the absence, but not in the presence, of the MPA cue.
MPA versus coresidence. MPA can only be observed by older sib-
lings, and so they are the only individuals who can potentially be
exposed to both MPA and coresidence duration cues. Thus analysis
of olders allows one to see how the kinship estimator integrates these
two cues to genetic relatedness.
Because MPA (as operationalized on these tests) is a dichotomous
variable (1, 0) with 84% of older siblings scoring 1, its effects are most
sensitively detected by using those outcome variables that are con-
tinuous and with high variance: altruism and moral opposition.
The study assessing altruism yielded the most subject-and-younger
sibling pairs (N5128). As Fig. 3 shows, MPA significantly pre-
dicted altruism towards younger siblings (r50.32, P50.0001
(0.00013)), even when controlling for coresidence (partial r50.22,
P50.006 (0.008), tolerance, 0.56, that is, much greater than the 0.10
collinearity threshold). This is important, because MPA and coresi-
dence duration are themselves correlated (r50.66). In contrast, the
relationship between coresidence duration and altruism towards
younger siblings (r50.24) disappears when the effects of MPA are
partialled out (partial r50.04, P50.33 (0.41)). When MPA, co-
residence and beliefs about sibling kinship were all entered into a
multiple regression, MPA was the only variable to independently
predict variance in altruism towards younger siblings (partial
r50.27, P50.001 (0.0013); tolerances, 0.42, 0.54 and 0.50, respec-
tively). Moreover, MPA predicts altruism towards younger siblings
better than either of its component parts (having the same
mother 1sibling coresidence beginning at the sibling’s birth; see
Supplementary Information section 3).
Although the sample size was much smaller (N530), the same
MPA–coresidence pattern emerged for the moral wrongness judg-
ments for incest (Fig. 3). For subjects with one opposite sex younger
sibling, MPA predicted moral opposition at r50.31 (P50.05
(0.06)), about the same effect size as for altruism. When the effects
of coresidence were statistically removed, the effect size for MPA
remained virtually unchanged: r50.26. In contrast, the effect size
for coresidence in predicting moral opposition was low (r50.18,
P50.17 (0.21)), and when the effects of MPA were statistically
removed, it disappeared entirely (r50.01, P50.49 (0.61); tol-
erance, 0.66).
Taken together, these analyses indicate that MPA is indeed a cue
used by olders in detecting younger siblings; when MPA is present,
coresidence duration is no longer used.
Alternative hypotheses
Is coresidence a kin cue or an artefact? When MPA is absent, cor-
esidence duration correlates with altruism to the same degree regard-
less of the sibling’s sex, as kin selection theory predicts that a cue to
genetic relatedness should. But individuals are at risk for incest only
from opposite sex siblings. Tellingly, moral opposition to third party
sibling incest tracks duration of coresidence with an opposite sex, but
not a same sex sibling (r520.01, P50.47 (0.59), N530). This
pattern rules out any counter-hypothesis that coresidence duration
is important not because it cues genetic relatedness, but because it is a
spurious correlate of something else about the family (stability, tra-
ditional family structure, religion, and so on)
The effects of coresidence when MPA is absent are also much
targeted: duration of coresidence does not predict generosity outside
of the sibling pair, and it is not positively correlated with moral
judgments about any surveyed behaviours unrelated to incest
(Supplementary Information section 4).
Altruism: effect size (r)Incest moral: effect size (r)
First order
for MPA
Control for
Figure 3
When MPA and coresidence duration cues are both available,
the kin detection system defaults to MPA, the more reliable cue. a,b, The
only individuals for whom these cues could be jointly available are olders
detecting younger siblings; each bar on the graph shows the size of the
correlation between a cue and an outcome measure for this group. For olders
responding to youngers, exposure to the MPA cue predicts both altruism
(a) and moral opposition to sibling incest (b), and with the same effect size
(black bar, first pair, each panel). The MPA cue continues to predict these
disparate measures even after the effects of coresidence duration are
statistically removed (black bar, second pair, each panel). In contrast,
coresidence duration ceases to predict either altruism or moral opposition to
sibling incest once the effects of MPA are removed (grey bar, second pair,
each panel). ***P,0.001, **P,0.01, *P50.05, 1P,0.10.
Vol 445
15 February 2007 ARTICLES
©2007 Publishing Group
Early imprinting? Despite claims for an early imprinting period for
sexual aversions
, when MPA is absent, total duration of coresi-
dence predicts altruism and sexual aversion better than age of sibling
(or subject) when coresidence begins (start age; Supplementary
Information section 5). The discovery that MPA is a potent cue for
olders detecting younger sibs might explain past results suggesting an
early imprinting period: start age at sibling’s birth is not an inde-
pendent predictor for olders detecting youngers (Supplementary
Information section 3), but it is one component of the MPA cue.
Do beliefs matter? Coresidence duration predicted the outcome
measures better than subjects’ consciously held beliefs about siblings’
genetic relatedness. Controlling for beliefs, coresidence continued to
predict most outcome measures; in contrast, beliefs failed to predict
most measures once the effects of coresidence were controlled for
statistically (Supplementary Information section 6). Indeed, when
subjects believe their sibling is step or adoptive, coresidence predicts
altruism and sexual aversions, indicating that when beliefs conflict
with the kin detection system, the criteria used by the kin detection
system prevail (Supplementary Information section 6).
Other alternatives? Caution is always warranted in interpreting cor-
relational findings, but it seems safe to say that altruism and sexual
aversion are either regulated by the theoretically predicted cues, MPA
and coresidence duration, or by unidentified cues very highly corre-
lated with them. So far, we have been unable to find any cues that
predict outcomes better than do MPA and coresidence duration.
The tight mesh between theoretical expectations and empirical tests
provides strong support for the hypothesis that humans have a sys-
tem designed by selection to detect genetic relatedness: specifically,
one with (at a minimum) the computational elements outlined in
Fig. 1. For example, the fact that different motivational systems are
regulated in parallel by the same cues to relatedness implicates a
single underlying neurocomputational variable—a kinship index—
used by both. Moreover, if registered information about MPA and
coresidence were fed directly into programs regulating altruism and
sexual aversion, their effects would only be additive. They were not.
Instead, the presence of MPA eliminated effects of coresidence. This
is strong evidence for the existence of an intermediate computational
device, the kinship estimator, equipped with procedures that com-
bine these cues in a non-compensatory
way to compute the kinship
index. These results contribute to a growing body of findings showing
that humans are not immune to the evolutionary forces that have
shaped other species, and that Darwinism has a central role in dis-
covering the neural and psychological architecture of our species.
All subjects completed a survey about family composition and attributes. For
each sibling, subjects indicated that sibling’s age, type of sibling (for example,
biological, step), coresidence duration, age range of coresidence, and certainty of
sharing the same biological mother and father
. From these, the following
predictor variables were constructed: coresidence (duration of time a subject
co-resided with his/her sibling between the subject’s ages of 0 and 18); and
Maternal Perinatal Association (MPA; where a score of 1 means the subject
began coresidence with a sibling at the sibling’s birth and is certain they share
the same biological mother, and a score of 0 means any other scenario).
Instrument 1: sibling-directed altruism. Subjects (N5154 (107 women); ages,
16–21, mean age 6s.d. of 18.4460.82; 287 sibling pairs) indicated the number
of favours they performed for each sibling in the last month (behavioural mea-
sure), and, separately, how willing they would be to donate a kidney to their
sibling (dispositional measure) on a 7-point Likert-like scale (0, not willing at all;
6, extremely willing). Responses from these measures produced the same pattern
of results (Fig. 2) and were summed to produce a dependent variable, altruism
(range, 0 to 16; mean 6s.d. of 7.57 62.83).
Instrument 2: moral wrongness associated with third party sibling incest.
Subjects (N5186 (102 women); ages 18–47, mean 6s.d. of 21.54 64.21)
ranked 19 social transgressions on moral wrongness
. Two acts regarding third
party sibling incest (‘consensual sex between a brother and sister’ and ‘brother–
sister marriage’) were summed to produce a dependent variable, moral opposi-
tion (reverse-coded; range of 7 to 31 (mean 6s.d. of 22.43 65.12)). This vari-
able measures how morally wrong subjects view sibling incest among third
parties (not incest with a particular sibling); therefore, to isolate effects to a
particular sibling (in contrast to analyses in ref. 28), data analysis was restricted
to individuals with only one opposite sex sibling (N574).
Instrument 3: disgust imagining sexual acts with a sibling (Likert). Subjects
(N5455 (264 women); ages 18–54, mean6s.d. of 21.28 63.91; a subset also
completed Instruments 2 and 4) were asked how disgusting they would find
engaging in various sexual and nonsexual behaviours on a 7-point Likert-like
scale (0, not disgusting at all; 6, extremely disgusting). Among these were sexual
acts with particular opposite sex siblings. For each opposite sex sibling, inde-
pendent ratings for passionately kissing, and having sex with ‘your sibling’ were
summed to produce a dependent variable, sexual disgust (Likert).
Initial analyses, for which non-independence was not a concern (see
Supplementary Information section 8), indicated that women were at ceiling
for this measure and showed significantly less variance than men in their res-
ponses (Levine’s F
545.40, P54310
). The multi response permuta-
tion procedure (MRPP)
indicated that, as predicted, women reported more
disgust at sex with a sibling than did men (women (mean 6s.d.) 11.72 60.98,
N5264; men 11.12 61.96, N5191; standardized test statistic of 212.72,
). For this reason
this variable permitted the exploration of disgust
responses in males, but not females (N5191 males; ages 18–54, mean 6s.d. of
21.09 63.30; 246 sibling pairs).
Sexual disgust (Likert) was transformed into a dichotomous variable: ‘1’ was
assigned if a male responded at ceiling for disgust associated with sex and kissing
a sibling; ‘0’ if otherwise (mean 50.73, s.d. 50.45). For the other three depend-
ent measures, there were no sex differences in the relationships between pre-
dictor and outcome variables so results are reported for men and women
Instrument 4: disgust imagining sexual acts with a sibling (rank). A subset of
participants who completed Instrument 3 also completed Instrument 4
(N5375), which asked participants to assign a unique rank of disgust from 1
(not disgusting at all) to 50 (extremely disgusting) to eight acts, some of which
involved sexual contact with a family member, short of intercourse. Using
the rank of the sexual act involving a sibling, a variable, sexual disgust (rank),
was constructed (women, mean 547.36, s.d. 53.99; men, mean 545.51,
s.d. 59.91). To assess the effects of coresidence on sexual disgust in a way that
reflects coresidence with a particular sibling, data analyses are limited to subjects
with only one opposite sex sibling (N5243 (144 women); ages 18–50,
mean 6s.d. of 21.02 62.95).
Data analyses. Correlations involving dependent measures ‘moral opposition’
and ‘sexual disgust’ controlled for the subject’s sexual orientation. Controlling
for social desirability yielded similar effect sizes. For univariate analyses, we used
directed tests to assess predicted effects
. Pearson correlations for which we had
prior predictions report one-tailed P-values, followed by directed P-values in
parentheses (see Supplementary Information section 9). Non-independence
occurs in Instruments 1 and 3 because some subjects have multiple siblings thus
contributing multiple data-points. For these two studies, separate analyses using
only one sibling pair per subject were carried out and yielded the same effect sizes
(see Supplementary Information section 8).
Received 22 July; accepted 5 December 2006.
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Supplementary Information is linked to the online version of the paper at
Acknowledgements The authors thank P. Boyer, D. Fessler, S. Gangestad,
P. Pocker, H. Waldow, G. Williams, D. Williams, UCSB Academic Senate and the
providers of the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award (J.T.), and NIH
Director’s Pioneer Award (L.C.).
Author Information Reprints and permissions information is available at The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to D.L.
Vol 445
15 February 2007 ARTICLES
©2007 Publishing Group
... Given the prevalence and fundamental role that parental investment plays in children's own lives, it is possible that the observation of parental investment in third-party contexts may be used as a cue to identify parent-child relationships. Consistent with this claim, research with adult populations has shown that individuals not only rely on obvious cues, such as facial similarity (Kaminski et al., 2009), to aid in kinship detection, but also use social cues, such as the observation of maternal investment, to do so (Lieberman et al., 2007). For example, undergraduate students reported that the observation of maternal perinatal association (e.g., a mother breastfeeding an infant) was the strongest cue to aid in first-person sibling kinship detection while growing up (Lieberman et al., 2007). ...
... Consistent with this claim, research with adult populations has shown that individuals not only rely on obvious cues, such as facial similarity (Kaminski et al., 2009), to aid in kinship detection, but also use social cues, such as the observation of maternal investment, to do so (Lieberman et al., 2007). For example, undergraduate students reported that the observation of maternal perinatal association (e.g., a mother breastfeeding an infant) was the strongest cue to aid in first-person sibling kinship detection while growing up (Lieberman et al., 2007). ...
... Partial resource sharing as a cue to parental investment Partiality in resource sharing from adult to child may be a particularly potent cue to parent-child relationships in third-party contexts because partiality may serve as an index of parental investment. Theories have postulated that one of the primary cues that individuals use to aid in first-person kinship detection is the observation of parental investment, more specifically, the observation of maternal perinatal association (e.g., observing a woman breastfeed an infant; Lieberman et al., 2007). Consistent with these claims, parents report more willingness to invest resources (e.g., financial assistance; Anderson et al., 1999) towards their own child as opposed to other children. ...
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By early childhood, children possess clear expectations about how resources should be, and typically are, distributed, expecting and advocating for equal resource distributions to recipients. Moreover, recent evidence suggests that children may be able to use deviations from equality in resource distributions to make inferences about the nature of social relationships. Here, we investigated whether children use partiality in resource distributions displayed by adults toward children in third-party contexts to identify parent-child relationships, whether children anticipate preferential treatment based upon knowledge of third-party parent-child relationships, and whether children anticipate different emotional reactions to impartiality in resource distributions in parent-child interactions compared to neighbor-child interactions. Four-to seven-year-old children were presented with hypothetical vignettes about an adult character who distributed resources to two children either equally, or systematically favoring one child. By the age of 4, children used resource distribution partiality to identify an adult as a child’s parent, and also used these expectations to guide their anticipated emotional reactions to impartiality. By the age of 6, children were also more likely to anticipate partiality to be displayed in parent-child compared to neighbor-child relationships. The findings from the current study reveal that partiality in resource distributions acts as a valuable cue to aid in identifying and understanding social relationships, highlighting the integral role that resources play in children’s understanding of their social world. More broadly, our findings support the claim that children use cues that signal interpersonal investment to specify and evaluate parent-child relationships in third-party contexts.
... Because these proximal variables are believed to be associated with long-term fitness outcomes, fitness interdependence can be indirectly assessed with measures of these variables. As an example, research on incest avoidance has shown that cues such as early life coresidence contribute to perceptions of genetic relatedness (Lieberman et al., 2007;Sznycer et al., 2016) and, ultimately, to perceptions of interdependence. Similarly, the use of kin terms increases perceptions of interdependence (Cronk et al., 2019). ...
... Future research should help clarify the cognitive architecture underlying perceived interdependence. It may be that many diverse cues get integrated into an internal cognitive summary variable that includes cues like genetic relatedness (Burnstein et al., 1994;Hackman et al., 2015;Lieberman et al., 2007;Sznycer et al., 2016), risk pooling (Aktipis et al., 2011;Cashdan, 1985;Kaplan et al., 1985), reciprocation (Cosmides & Tooby, 2005;Delton et al., 2011;Hoffman et al., 1998), cooperative relationships (Hruschka, 2010;Hruschka & Silk, 2015), the existence of common friends or enemies (Pietraszewski, 2016;Shaw et al., 2017), worldview similarity Pinsof & Haselton, 2016;Tooby & Cosmides, 1996), mutualism (Balliet et al., 2017;Charness & Rabin, 2002;Rusbult, 1983;Thibaut & Kelley, 1959), and shared group membership (Choi & Bowles, 2007). Alternatively, there may be several independent summary variables that influence behavior. ...
... Hay, por lo menos, dos principales señales: la co-residencia infantil (ver crecer a otro niño en la misma casa durante años) y la asociación maternal perinatal (mirar a tu madre dando de lactar a otro niño). Estas son dos tipos de información específica que usa la mente humana para identificar parientes cercanos y evitar el incesto (Lieberman, Tooby y Cosmides, 2007). ...
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La psicología evolucionista (PE) sostiene la hipótesis de la modularidad masiva (HMM), en la que la mente es entendida como un conjunto de módulos que cumplen una función específica para revolver problemas adaptativos recurrentes en nuestro ambiente de adaptación evolutiva. Este conjunto formaría parte de la naturaleza humana y el objetivo de la PE es identificarlos y explicarlos en términos distales. Sus detractores arguyen que la concepción modular es inconsistente con el conocimiento teórico y empírico actual. A partir de los trabajos de Carruthers y Crawford defenderé que varias de las críticas contra HMM asumen la concepción modular de Fodor (F-módulos), quien enfatiza el aspecto intencional. Sin embargo, la PE destaca la funcionalidad biológica, concibe los módulos como rasgos adaptativos que evolucionan por sus efectos en la reproducción diferencial; es decir, módulos darwinianos (D-módulos) y los entiende como sistemas de procesamiento de información especializados. Ello les da un matiz distinto al carácter innato y encapsulado de la concepción modular, por lo que las implicancias y los supuestos teóricos y empíricos también varían. Finalmente, aclaradas estas confusiones conceptuales y brindando evidencia factual, se concluye que la HMM es epistemológicamente viable.
... Sexual intercourse with close genetic relatives is an adaptive problem in mating because it increases the chances that offspring will inherit deleterious recessive alleles, thus lowering the reproductive success of both parents (Asao, in press). Studies in evolutionary biology have documented the negative fitness consequences of inbreeding (e.g., Charlesworth & Charlesworth, 1987;Crnokrak & Roff, 1999), and evolutionary psychologists have found compelling evidence of incest avoidance mechanisms in humans (Fessler & Navarrete, 2004;Lieberman et al., 2007;Westermarck, 1981). Therefore, we hypothesized that (a) incest would be moralized negatively by both men and women for both male and female actors. ...
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Despite the increase in the scientific study of morality over the past decade, one important domain remains relatively underexplored—sexual morality. The current article begins to fill this gap by exploring its multidimensionality and testing several evolution-based hypotheses about sex differences in moralizing distinct components of sexual morality, including incest, sexual coercion, sexual infidelity, and short-term mating. Study 1 (N = 920) and Study 2 (N = 543) tested predictions derived from evolutionary psychological hypotheses and used factor analysis to identify seven core factors of sexual morality separately for male and female actors: infidelity, short-term sex, sexual coercion, outgroup sex, long-term mating, same-sex sexuality, and paraphilic sex. Study 3 (N = 380) provided an independent test of the evolution- based hypotheses and factor structure. Results strongly support sex-differentiated predictions about short-term sex, but not sexual coercion or incest (possibly owing to ceiling effects). Discussion centers around sexual morality as a complex domain not readily explained by more domain-general theories of morality and the necessity of comprehensive theories of morality to include sex-differentiated components in their formulations.
The Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics is an authoritative reference work that provides the reader with a wide-ranging introduction to this exciting new scientific discipline. The book brings together leading international academics to offer a well-balanced overview of this burgeoning field while addressing two questions central to the field: how the brain computes aesthetic appreciation for sensory objects and how art is created and experienced. The editors, Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal, have compiled a neuroscientific, physiological, and psychological overview of the systems underlying the evaluation of sensory objects and aesthetic appreciation. Covering a variety of art forms mediated by vision, audition, movement, and language, the handbook puts forward a critical review of the current research to explain how and why perceptual and emotional processes are essential for art production. The work also unravels the interaction of art with expectations, experience and knowledge and the modulation of artistic appreciation through social and contextual settings, eventually bringing to light the potential of art to influence mental states, health, and well-being. The concepts are presented through research on the neural processes enabling artistic creativity, artistic expertise, and the evolution of symbolic cognition. This handbook is a compelling read for anyone interested in making a first venture into this exciting new area of study and is best suited for students and researchers in the fields of neuroaesthetics, perceptual learning, and cognitive psychology.
This study sought to explore the validity of a latent-factor model of moral intuition development during early adolescence. The 3-Factor Character Foundations Survey (CFS-3) was used to assess the moral intuitions of early adolescents ( n = 850, M = 12.4 years old, SD = .96) under a moral foundations theory framework. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the psychometric validity of the three latent factor constructs (autonomy, loyalty, and empathy), and partial metric invariance was established to allow for the comparing of latent factor means between four age- and sex-based groups coinciding with averages for pubertal onset. Results support prior findings of greater latent factor means for females in all three factors when compared to males in the 11-12-year-old age group. Additionally, 13-14-year-old females exhibited lower latent factor means in autonomy and loyalty factors when compared to 11-12-year-old females. This resulted in 13-14-year-old females remaining higher in empathy and autonomy but showing no difference in loyalty when compared to 13-14-year-old males. Results are interpreted through the lens of attachment theory, socio-cultural influence, and certain limitations of the survey instrument itself. Suggestions for future studies are proposed.
Is there an elephant hiding in the cooperation debate? To clarify the matter there are three suggestions. First that the puzzle can be viewed from a different angle: prehistoric conflict was not so much an alternative to cooperation as its cause, means and outcome. The modern tradition from the 1960s onwards contains elements like partner choice, ostracism and even religion that support this view. Second, that related work in group psychoanalysis , comparative anthropology and primatology can usefully be integrated with the debate. Finally, that the social context is unusually relevant, and can help separate out related questions-altruism in biology, conflict between modern states, egalitarianism between the sexes-that may have shaped or influenced the discussion. Then a simple conflict model is introduced, based on the 'envy triangle' of biology. This allows a reframing of the canonical Prisoners Dilemma model and illustrates a plausible sequence from the earliest hunting groups, via a 'vervet model' of shifting social alliances, to two group-level forms of conflict: ostracism and tribalism.
Things afford positive, neutral, or negative long-run effects on the replicative probability of the focal individual's genes. At the most general level, values are internal estimates of those effects. Value information steers physiology and behavior in the right direction: approach apple, avoid lion. Thus, value computation is of paramount biological importance. Task analysis suggests there are many prerequisites for valuing things aptly. Here, I focus on two: the need to compute value accurately, and the need to properly feed and integrate value information into the various systems that use value information (e.g., emotion systems). For example, the subjective food value imputed to an apple needs to reflect the nutrient content of the apple (accuracy); the intensity of gratitude aroused if someone gave you an apple needs to reflect the food value imputed to the apple (integration). Here, I evaluate these hypotheses with two preregistered studies. Consistent with the integration hypothesis, there are close correspondences between (i) the food values that participants impute to each of 40 food items (Study 1; goods) and (ii) the social values and the social emotions (including: gratitude, anger, shame, and pride) that result when those food items occur as constituents of broader social events. Similar correspondences are observed when participants evaluate each of 28 diseases and injuries (Study 2; bads). Consistent with the accuracy hypothesis, exploratory analyses indicate that the food values, the social values, and the social emotions elicited by the food items all track the nutrient content of those food items. Valuation is inherently a computational process. For this reason, a computational–functionalist perspective is distinctively suited to spur progress in our understanding of human values.
Alloparenting by and with genetically unrelated individuals is evolutionarily novel; thus, the Savanna–IQ Interaction Hypothesis predicts that more intelligent parents are more likely to resort to paid childcare by strangers. Analyses of individual data (National Child Development Study) in the United Kingdom (Study 1) and macrolevel data from the United States (Study 2) and economically developed Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations (Study 3) confirmed the hypothesis. Net of education, earnings, sex, current marital status, and number of children, more intelligent British parents were more likely to resort to paid childcare at ages 33 and 42; net of female labor force participation rate, median household income, median cost of childcare, and mean education, U.S. states with higher average intelligence had higher proportions of children (ages 0–4) in paid childcare; and net of maternal employment, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, cost of childcare, and female educational attainment, OECD nations with higher average intelligence had higher proportions of infants (ages 0–2) in paid childcare. The results were remarkably consistent; both across the 50 U.S. states and 45 economically developed OECD nations, a one IQ point increase in the average intelligence of the population was associated with a 1.8% increase in the proportion of children in paid childcare. Contrary to earlier findings, there was some suggestive evidence that the experience of paid daycare might harm the cognitive development of children. The studies point to the importance of evolutionary perspective in developmental psychology and child development.
A Twin Loss Survey was completed by MZ and same-sex DZ twins following loss of a cotwin and nontwin relatives. Twin survivors (N = 612; MZ = 506; DZ, n = 106) included twins whose age at loss was 15 years or older. Participation age was M = 47.66 years (SD = 15.31). Hamilton's inclusive fitness theory generated two hypotheses: (1) MZ twins will recall greater grief intensity at loss than DZ twins; (2) loss of a twin will receive greater grief intensity ratings than loss of nontwin relatives. We expected females to grieve more intensely for deceased cotwins than males. Males cannot be certain a child conceived by their partner is theirs (paternity uncertainty). As such, grief for the loss of a twin brother (whose child would indirectly transmit common genes) should be reduced by surviving male twins, relative to surviving female twins. Part I: Hypotheses regarding grief intensity were supported. Part II: A structural equation model was estimated; grief significantly mediated relationships between exogenous and endogenous predictors and grief predicted greater preoccupation and less effective coping. MZ twins and females expressed greater grief intensity than DZ twins and males. Associations between genetic relatedness and grief, consistent with evolutionary-based predictions, are highlighted.
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Considers kin recognition systems as vehicles of social communication, and reviews 1) the contexts of kin recognition (parental care, especially in salamanders, schooling behaviour of tadpoles, territoriality and mating); 2) mechanisms of kin recognition, with emphasis on ontogeny and examination of sensory mechanisms; and 3) functional approaches to kin recognition (growth and development, responses to predators, and inbreeding and optimal outbreeding). -P.J.Jarvis
Discusses how far it is justifiable to conclude that there are causal links between primate behaviour and kinship simply on the basis of correlation. There is a primary need to establish the existence of a phenomenon before trying to understand mechanism (cause), function, ontogeny and evolution. Relationships between aggression and kinship, between kinship and inbreeding, and between aggression and kinship, and between paternal kinship and behaviour are examined, and conclusions are drawn about the nature of kinship recognition mechanisms. Given that primates have a long period of biological dependence, are noted for the establishment and maintenance of long-term social bonds, and are capable of modifying behaviour as a function of experience and long-term retention of this learning, it might be expected that they form intense social bonds with their earliest associates and that these bonds are maintained. Such bonds will be formed with matrilineal kin as a function of long-term infant dependence on the mother. -P.J.Jarvis
Premarital sexual behavior and marriage patterns were investigated in Israeli kibbutzim. All adolescents and adults of the second generation (N =65)in one kibbutz were studied. There were no cases of heterosexual activity between any two native adolescents of the same peer group and no cases of marriage between any two members of the same peer group. The avoidance was completely voluntary. Among 2769 marriages contracted by second generation adults in all kibbutzim, there were no cases of intra-peer group marriage. These findings could represent a case of negative imprinting whereby collective peer group education which includes an incessant exposure to peers from the first days of life and an unimpeded tactile relationship among the peers between ages 0-6 results in sexual avoidance and exogamy.