It's not all sex and violence: Integrated anthropology and the role of cooperation and social complexity in human evolution

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Abstract

Social scientists, especially anthropologists, have long endeavored to understand the evolution of "human nature." This investigation frequently focuses on the relative importance of competition versus cooperation in human evolutionary trajectories and usually results in a primary emphasis on competition, aggression, and even war in attempting to understand humanity. This perspective conflicts with long-standing perspectives in anthropology and some emerging trends and theory in evolutionary biology and ecology. Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive in an evolutionary context. As anthropologists, we have demonstrated that humans can - and usually do -g et along. Evolution is complex with multiple processes and patterns, not all of which involve competition and conflict. In this article, I summarize elements of modern ecological and evolutionary theory in the context of human cooperative patterns in an attempt to illustrate the valuable role of evolutionary theory and cooperative patterns in integrative anthropological approaches to the human condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-718
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume106
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Keywords

  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Evolution
  • Violence
  • War

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