PerspectiveCULTURAL EVOLUTION

Behavioral convergence in humans and animals

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Science  15 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6526, pp. 235-236
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf7572

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  • RE: when culture overrides fitness maximizing ecological adaption and vice versa

    According to Hill and Boyd (2021), predicting the dynamic shift between cultural adaption and ecological adaption is the challenge facing social sciences, vis-à-vis arguments that either, "because human cognition and emotions had evolved by natural selection, these behavior-generating mechanisms should generally shape behavior so that it maximizes biological fitness;" or "differences between and within human societies were mainly due to variant cultural belief systems." (Hall & Boyd, 2021, summary).

    The shift toward fitness maximizing cultural adaption might be governed by the evolutionary logic of social gradients, which according to Snyder-Mackler, et al. (2020), "[the available evidence] suggests a shared biology underlying the influence of social gradients and a coherent evolutionary logic for when these gradients tend to be shallower versus steeper ... [that] social integration, social status, and early-life adversity have been shown to predict natural life spans in wild populations and molecular, physiological, and disease outcomes in experimental animal models"

    Does this solve the Hill-Boyd challenge?

    For the individual situated within a group that is situated within a landscape and climate, the asymmetric nature of fitness options set before it becomes clear. We are reminded that "Behavioral phenomena are situated in their task ecology, which means they are causally embedded in their task ecology ......

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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