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Running Head: Kinship Cues and Prosocial Behaviour. Kinship Cues as a Basis for Prosocial Behaviour in Groups:

Kinship cues 1 Running Head: Kinship Cues and Prosocial Behaviour Kinship Cues as a Basis for Prosocial Behaviour in Groups: Heuristic Causes and Consequences of Familiarity Mark Van Vugt University of
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Kinship cues 1 Running Head: Kinship Cues and Prosocial Behaviour Kinship Cues as a Basis for Prosocial Behaviour in Groups: Heuristic Causes and Consequences of Familiarity Mark Van Vugt University of Southampton Mark Schaller and Justin H. Park University of British Columbia Submitted for Special Issue of GPIR on Evolutionary Approaches to Group Research (Guest editors: Tatsuya Kameda & R. Scott Tindale) Kinship cues 2 Abstract Drawing on evolutionary logic, we articulate a model that explains how an evolved mechanism of kin selection may underlie a broad range of prosocial behaviours within human social groups. The adaptive process of kin-selection required the evolution of psychological mechanisms that respond to perceptual cues indicating kinship. These kinrecognition mechanisms operate heuristically and are fallible: People who are not kin may also activate them, thus eliciting prosocial cognitions, emotions, and actions toward genetic strangers. We summarize a range of cues that serve as kin-recognition heuristics, and focus especially on the cue of similarity. Empirical evidence reveals that similarity (whether defined by social identity, physical features, or attitudes and values) promotes a wide range of prosocial feelings and behaviour. This evidence is buttressed by results from two new studies, reported here, linking perceived attitudinal similarity to loyalty and cooperation within groups. It appears that evolved mechanisms of kin-selection promote prosocial behaviour not toward family, per se, but rather toward individuals who are psychologically familiar. Conceptual and practical implications are discussed. Kinship cues 3 Kinship Cues as a Basis for Prosocial Behaviour in Groups: Heuristic Causes and Consequences of Familiarity A tribe including many members who, from possessing in high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes, and this would be natural selection. (Charles Darwin, 1871) Darwin's quote refers to a unique feature of human behaviour. Unlike other species, humans possess the ability to help, cooperate and empathise with genetically unrelated others, often in large anonymous groups. Every year millions of people in the US and UK alone voluntarily spend considerable personal resources to care for the sick and elderly, to help the illiterate, and to donate money to anonymous beneficiaries of charitable causes (Van Vugt, Snyder, Tyler, & Biel, 2000). People make sacrifices to help out unknown others in emergency situations, such as after earthquakes, and during food and water shortages (Van Vugt, 2001). People risk their lives by staying loyal to entirely unrelated comrades during times of warfare, and by entering burning buildings to save the lives of total strangers (Stern, 1995). Because so much of contemporary human prosocial behaviour is directed toward genetically unrelated strangers, it is tempting to assume that well-known evolutionary explanations for altruism such as evolutionary processes based on kin selection (Hamilton, 1964) and reciprocity (Trivers, 1971) are of only limited use to psychologists seeking to understand human behaviour. It is not uncommon for psychological researchers to explicitly state that evolutionary processes cannot explain altruistic acts directed toward unrelated strangers (e.g., McAndrew, 2002; McGuire, Kinship cues ). The psychological literature focuses almost entirely on discrete proximate predictors, without much consideration for the conceptual relations between these predictors and the deeper origins of the human capacity for prosocial action. Consequently, the psychological literature on human prosocial behaviour is conceptually fragmented. Different kinds of prosocial behaviour comprise distinct, largely unconnected lines of inquiry. For instance, inquiries into emergency helping proceed largely independently of inquiries into cooperative behaviour within groups. Different predictor variables are also considered independently within conceptually unrelated models of prosocial behaviour. Some models highlight the role of perceptual and cognitive factors, such as attributions of responsibility and perceptions of similarity (Latane & Darley, 1970; Pilliavin, Dovidio, Gaertner, & Clark, 1981). Others focus more on affective processes, such as pre-existing mood state or the arousal of empathy (Batson, Duncan, Ackerman, Buckley, & Birch, 1981; Schaller & Cialdini, 1990; Williamson & Clark, 1992). In addition to these rather individualistic explanations, other models stress the impact of communal experiences, such as shared fate and common social identity (Clark & Mills, 1979; Tajfel & Turner, 1986). This fragmentation is unfortunate. A more complete understanding of prosocial behavior within human groups may emerge if one considers together the many different varieties of action that can be legitimately described as prosocial, as there may be some common bases for these superficially different kinds of behaviour. A more complete understanding may also emerge from attempts to discover deeper conceptual relations between the many different proximal predictors of prosocial behaviour. Contrary to the easy assumptions of many psychologists, it turns out that an evolutionary approach can be very useful in forging this sort of conceptual integration. This evolutionary approach does not replace existing social psychological models of prosocial behaviour; it Kinship cues 5 complements and helps unify these models by locating their explanatory mechanisms within a broader conceptual framework. In this article, we focus primarily on the evolutionary mechanisms of kin selection (and, to a lesser extent, on evolutionary mechanisms based on reciprocity). In doing so, we focus on the psychological kin-recognition mechanisms that necessarily evolved in order to facilitate a behavioural tendency to devote resources to kin more than non-kin (Krebs, 1987). We describe how the psychology of kin-recognition involves attention to heuristic cues such as perceived similarity that are fallible. The fallibility of this process helps explain why people frequently help unrelated strangers and successfully cooperate even in large anonymous groups. The fallibility of this kin-recognition process is predictable, and so yields hypotheses bearing on contemporary social psychological variables that moderate prosocial behavior. We review some of the relevant empirical literature that is consistent with this evolutionary perspective. We also report some new empirical results, bearing specifically on group loyalty and cooperation that further support this conceptual perspective. Finally, we discuss intriguing issues and implications that are raised by this evolutionary approach. Evolutionary Roots of Prosocial Behaviour During much of human and pre-human evolutionary history, individuals lived in relatively small, kin-based tribal groups (Barrett, Dunbar, & Lycett, 2002). Thus, we can expect human populations to be described by a number of psychological and cultural adaptations that evolved in response to the specific problems of navigating this specific social environment. Evolutionary considerations suggest that there are many adaptations that incline individuals to be selfish and competitive (Campbell, 1978; Krebs & Miller, 1985). In addition, however, there are distinct evolutionary processes that are likely to have led to the emergence of psychological mechanisms that compel individuals to Kinship cues 6 sometimes forego selfish behaviour and instead to willingly devote valued resources to others. Two evolutionary processes in particular have received extensive attention: The process of reciprocal altruism (Trivers, 1971), and the process of kin selection (Hamilton, 1964). Within the psychological literature, there already exist many reviews of the biological mechanisms underlying these processes (e.g., Krebs, 1987; Krebs & Miller, 1985; Ridley & Dawkins, 1981); we provide only a cursory overview of these biological processes, which primarily explain the presence of genes promoting prosocial tendencies within human populations. In contrast, we shall devote considerably more attention to the (individual-level) psychological implications of the underlying (population-level) evolutionary processes. It is through a focus on these psychological implications that it becomes clear that ancestral evolutionary processes may exert a much broader impact on contemporary prosocial behaviour than is typically assumed. Evolutionary Logic of Reciprocal Altruism and Kin Selection The evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism may contribute to a capacity for prosocial behaviour in social animals (Trivers, 1971). Individuals who cooperated with others and helped others in need may have been more likely to benefit from reciprocation later when they required assistance themselves. This reception of aid is likely to have had beneficial functional consequences on survival and sexual reproduction. Consequently, to the extent that genetic information was associated with an inclination toward prosocial action, these genes would have become increasingly prevalent within human populations. Consistent with the logic of reciprocal altruism, examples of behavioural reciprocity can be found in most social mammals, including bats, primates, and humans (De Waal, 1996). Human ancestral populations lived in small tribal groups that included substantial numbers of close kin. This circumstance made possible the evolution of a capacity Kinship cues 7 toward prosocial behaviour also through the mechanism of kin selection, which is based on the logic of inclusive fitness (Hamilton, 1964). Prosocial acts directed toward needy kin would have increased the likelihood that these relatives would survive and reproduce. Kin share genetic information, of course. Consequently, to the extent that genetic information was associated with the inclination toward prosocial action, and to the extent that these actions were directed especially toward closer kin, those genes were likely to have become increasingly prevalent within human populations. Consistent with the logic of kin selection, people do provide assistance to kin more readily than to non-kin, and are generally more likely to help close kin than distant kin, especially in life-or-death situations (Burnstein, Crandall, & Kitayama, 1994; Essock-Vitale & McGuire, 1985; Neyer & Lang, 2003). Fallible Psychology Forged by Evolutionary Pressures Genes do not compel behaviour directly. Any evolutionary pressure that results in a human capacity for prosocial behaviour does so indirectly, typically through a set of psychological (and cultural) mechanisms that facilitate that behaviour. As Hoffman (1981, p. 44) observed, it was not altruistic action but mediators of altruistic action that were selected. For instance, evolutionary pressures pertaining to reciprocity require the emergence of psychological mechanisms that allow individuals to distinguish between individuals who are likely to reciprocate and those who are unlikely to reciprocate. There is considerable evidence supporting the existence of psychological mechanisms that do detect cheaters and discriminate those individuals from others who can be trusted to reciprocate (Brown & Moore, 2000; Cosmides & Tooby, 1992; Mealey, Daood, & Krage, 1996). Similarly, evolutionary pressures pertaining to kin selection require the emergence of mechanisms that allow individuals to identify the degree to which other individuals share one s own genes (Krebs, 1987). There is no good evidence to suggest Kinship cues 8 that people are able to directly recognize the presence of shared alleles or genes in others (Dawkins, 1976; Krebs, 1987). But there are many psychological and cultural mechanisms that indirectly serve the same purpose including, most obviously, the cultural instantiation and individual learning of linguistic labels (sister, uncle, etc.) that explicitly connote different degrees of kinship. Thus, whether it is based ultimately on evolutionary processes of reciprocity or kin-selection, human prosocial behavior depends fundamentally on the psychology of social inference and judgment. Individuals must attend to available cues that serve as clues, helping them judge the likelihood of reciprocation or degree of kinship. The cues that individuals historically learned to attend to and so still are likely to attend to today are those that were correlated with actual reciprocity and actual kinship in the evolutionary past. In the case of reciprocity, a number of specific contextual and perceptual cues can be identified as likely candidates (e.g., ingroup membership, physical proximity). A substantially similar set of cues can be identified as plausible indicators of kinship (see, for example, Krebs & Miller, 1985). These cues convey familiarity in the very literal sense of that word. Not only is there considerable overlap in the sets of cues that serve as heuristics connoting reciprocity and kinship, it appears that a judgment of kinship itself serves as a heuristic connoting a higher likelihood of reciprocity: People are more likely to expect reciprocation from kin compared to non-kin (Kruger, 2003). Moreover, some scientists have argued that an act of reciprocation may serve as a heuristic cue indicating kinship (Axelrod & Hamilton, 1981). In general, it appears that in populations defined by closer genetic relations, there also exist denser networks of reciprocal relations (Palmer, 1991). To avoid redundancy, when considering those cues that promote prosocial behaviour (below), we focus our conceptual attention primarily on kinship and cues that connote Kinship cues 9 familiarity in a literal sense. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that any kinrecognition cue probably also serves indirectly as a reciprocity-prediction cue as well. Any cue-based process of social inference is fallible (Brunswik, 1955; Fiedler, 1996). Linguistic labels are perhaps the most reliable cues that are readily available to distinguish kin from non-kin, and yet even these labels are sometimes inaccurate predictors of actual genetic relatedness (e.g., in the case of adoption). Other cues are likely to be considerably more fallible. This sort of fallibility is common within just about every realm of evolutionary psychology. Men use fallible cues to judge the sexual availability of women, and as a consequence they commonly over-estimate the degree of female sexual interest (Haselton & Buss, 2000). People are sensitive to cues that imperfectly signal the presence of contagious disease in others, and so they tend to respond aversively to individuals bearing these cues even when they know that the actual threat of disease is nonexistent (Park, Schaller, & Faulkner, 2003). These tendencies toward over-generalization are likely to be reflected also in human prosocial behaviour. The evolutionary bases of prosocial behavior did not compel us to help family, per se, but rather to help others who are perceived to be familiar. The cues that connote familiarity are fallible; under many contemporary situations, even unrelated strangers may be perceived to be familiar. Consequently, they are likely to elicit prosocial behavior. This analysis has several useful implications. First, it helps us to appreciate the broad implications of ancestral evolutionary processes on contemporary prosocial behaviour. It reveals that even prosocial behaviour directed toward unrelated strangers may have a basis in evolutionary processes pertaining to kin selection (Krebs, 1987; Krebs & Miller, 1985). Second, it implies that any cue connoting familiarity is likely to elicit higher levels of prosocial behaviour, independent of Kinship cues 10 objective assessments of kinship. Third, given the wide variety of ways in which individuals may provide assistance to others, it implies that these effects of familiarity cues are likely to be observed across a wide variety of prosocial acts, including both direct assistance to individuals and cooperative behaviour within groups. Consequently, it provides a broad conceptual umbrella within which many superficially independent psychological phenomena may be understood as sharing a common evolutionary and psychological cause: We are inclined to respond prosocially to folks who, for whatever reason, seem literally to be familiar. The Perception (and Misperception) of Kinship: Heuristic Cues What specific kinds of cues are likely to be used as heuristic indicators of kinship? A number of researchers have suggested that the affective experience of empathy may serve as such as cue (Hoffman, 1981; Krebs, 1987; Schaller, 2003; Sorrentino & Rushton, 1981). As with other emotions that evolved to trigger specific functional responses (e.g., fear, disgust), an empathic emotional state may implicitly connote a sense of familiarity, and so is likely to reflexively compel prosocial action with a minimum of deliberative thought. Indeed, research on empathy reveals that it is associated with feelings of oneness (Batson et al., 1997; Cialdini et al, 1997), and that it strongly compels prosocial behavior (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987). Furthermore, it appears that empathic helping responses are somewhat reflexive or impulsive, often without full consideration of costs and benefits (Batson, 1991; Krebs, 1987). Of course, empathy is a highly fallible indicator of kinship. Individuals can be led, through a variety of means (effortful attempts at perspective-taking, misattribution of arousal, etc.) to experience empathy toward total strangers (e.g., Coke, Batson, & McDavis, 1978; Stotland, 1969). Regardless of how empathy is aroused, it may serve as a heuristic cue connoting familiarity and so lead reflexively to prosocial action. Kinship cues 11 The arousal of empathy itself is more likely to occur in some contexts than others, and to be facilitated by a variety of features pertaining to others in potential need of assistance. These contexts and features may themselves serve as heuristic cues connoting kinship. A number of different perceptual and contextual cues have been identified in previous work (e.g., Krebs, 1987; Porter, 1987; Waldman, 1987). Some cues, such as linguistic labels for different kinds of family members, are so obvious as to be almost uninteresting. Other cues that clearly are used for the purposes of kin-recognition in other species such as olfactory cues (Porter, Cernoch, & Balogh, 1985) have received no empirical attention in the literature on human prosocial behavior. Several cues however have received some considerable attention. Proximity particularly a history of living within close proximity is often identified as a plausible cue for kin-recognition (e.g., Krebs & Miller, 1985). In its strongest form, people are likely to perceive as kin those individuals who they grew up with. Research on human mate selection and sexual behaviour supports the contention that this sort of proximity is indeed used as a cue connoting kinship (e.g., Wolf, 1970). And, even among individuals who are genetically unrelated, this form of proximity does seem to promote stronger prosocial tendencies, such as more cooperative behaviour in mixed-motive social dilemmas (Shapira & Madsen, 1969). Spatial proximity brings about additional psychological consequences such as repeated exposure, friendship, expectations for future interactions, and feelings of community -- which may also serve as cues connoting familiarity, and which also are associated with increased prosocial behaviour (Latane & Darley, 1970; Van Vugt, 2001; mere exposure effect; Zajonc, 1980). Another set of cues pertain to perceptions of similarity between self and other. There is a considerable body of evidence indicating various kinds of similarity
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