Group selection, altruism, reinforcement, and throwing in human evolution.
Evolution of altruism by group selection involves sacrifice of some individuals, not to the "group as a whole," but to other individuals in the group. Deme-group selection may establish strictly altruistic genes in a population, but only under limited conditions, and perhaps never among vertebrates, among which apparently altruistic behaviors may always potentially benefit the altruists. Responsive-group selection is a more effective mode of evolution of altruism, conspicuous in man. Evolutionary reinforcement increases the force of selection of advantageous behaviors, including altruistic ones, by making them pleasant or rewarding. It is probably involved also in ecological habitat selection, and may be the source of many human emotions, including esthetic ones. Throwing (of stones and weapons) exemplifies both the possible importance of a difficult-to-measure evolutionary factor and the role of reinforcement; in human evolution throwing may have been decisive in food-getting and fighting, in shifting emphasis from brute force to skill, and in inducing evolution of a brain able to handle three-body geometric problems precisely and thus preadapted for more complex functions. (+info)
General kin selection models for genetic evolution of sib altruism in diploid and haplodiploid species.
A population genetic approach is presented for general analysis and comparison of kin selection models of sib and half-sib altruism. Nine models are described, each assuming a particular mode of inheritance, number of female inseminations, and Mendelian dominance of the altruist gene. In each model, the selective effects of altruism are described in terms of two general fitness functions, A(beta) and S(beta), giving respectively the expected fitness of an altruist and a nonaltruist as a function of the fraction of altruists beta in a given sibship. For each model, exact conditions are reported for stability at altruist and nonaltruist fixation. Under the Table 3 axions, the stability conditions may then be partially ordered on the basis of implications holding between pairs of conditions. The partial orderings are compared with predictions of the kin selection theory of Hamilton. (+info)
Helping effort and future fitness in cooperation animal societies.
Little attention has been paid to a conspicuous and universal feature of animal societies: the variation between individuals in helping effort. Here, we develop a multiplayer kin-selection model that assumes that subordinates face a trade-off because current investment in help reduces their own future reproductive success. The model makes two predictions: (i) subordinates will work less hard the closer they are to inheriting breeding status; and (ii) for a given dominance rank, subordinates will work less hard in larger groups. The second prediction reflects the larger pay-off from inheriting a larger group. Both predictions were tested through a field experiment on the paper wasp Polistes dominulus. First, we measured an index of helping effort among subordinates, then we removed successive dominants to reveal the inheritance ranks of the subordinates: their positions in the queue to inherit dominance. We found that both inheritance rank and group size had significant effects on helping effort, in the manner predicted by our model. The close match between our theoretical and empirical results suggests that individuals adjust their helping effort according to their expected future reproductive success. This relationship has probably remained hidden in previous studies that have focused on variation in genetic relatedness. (+info)
Experimental evidence for kin-biased helping in a cooperatively breeding vertebrate.
The widespread belief that kin selection is necessary for the evolution of cooperative breeding in vertebrates has recently been questioned. These doubts have primarily arisen because of the paucity of unequivocal evidence for kin preferences in cooperative behaviour. Using the cooperative breeding system of long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) in which kin and non-kin breed within each social unit and helpers are failed breeders, we investigated whether helpers preferentially direct their care towards kin following breeding failure. First, using observational data, we show that not all failed breeders actually become helpers, but that those that do help usually do so at the nest of a close relative. Second, we confirm the importance of kinship for helping in this species by conducting a choice experiment. We show that potential helpers do not become helpers in the absence of close kin and, when given a choice between helping equidistant broods belonging to kin and non-kin within the same social unit, virtually all helped at the nest of kin. This study provides strong evidence that kinship plays an essential role in the maintenance of cooperative breeding in this species. (+info)
Touched by homelessness: an examination of hospitality for the down and out.
OBJECTIVES: This study investigated patterns of "doubled-up" homelessness using an indirect measure based on host households. METHODS: In random household telephone surveys conducted in Alabama between 1990 and 2000 and nationally in 1997, respondents indicated whether any individual had stayed with them during the past year because that person was homeless. RESULTS: The percentage of Alabama households providing shelter during the past year declined from 16.2% in 1990 to 7.1% in 2000. The national rate for providing shelter in 1997 was 18.0%. CONCLUSIONS: Many households provide shelter to people to prevent them from being literally homeless. As the economy has expanded, these rates have declined in Alabama. (+info)
Dispersal costs set the scene for helping in an atypical avian cooperative breeder.
The ecological constraints hypothesis is suggested to explain the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. This hypothesis predicts that the scene for cooperative breeding is set when ecological factors constrain offspring from dispersal. This prediction was tested in the atypical cooperative breeding system of the long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus, by comparing the degree of philopatry and cooperation in an isolated and a contiguous site whilst experimentally controlling for confounding aspects of reproduction. No difference was found between the two sites in the survival of offspring but a greater proportion were found to remain philopatric in the isolated site. This difference was caused by greater philopatry of normally dispersive females suggesting, as predicted, that dispersal costs were greater from this site. Furthermore, a greater proportion of males and females cooperated following breeding failure in the isolated site than in the contiguous site. Thus, as has been suggested for typical avian cooperative breeders, dispersal costs, relative to philopatric benefits, appear to set the scene for cooperative breeding in long-tailed tits. (+info)
Mental health first aid training for the public: evaluation of effects on knowledge, attitudes and helping behavior.
BACKGROUND: Many members of the public have poor mental health literacy. A Mental Health First Aid training course was developed in order to improve this. This paper describes the training course and reports an evaluation study looking at changes in knowledge, stigmatizing attitudes and help provided to others. METHODS: Data are reported on the first 210 participants in public courses. Evaluation questionnaires were given at the beginning of courses, at the end and at 6 months follow-up. Data were analyzed using an intention-to-treat approach. RESULTS: The course improved participants' ability to recognize a mental disorder in a vignette, changed beliefs about treatment to be more like those of health professionals, decreased social distance from people with mental disorders, increased confidence in providing help to someone with a mental disorder, and increased the amount of help provided to others. CONCLUSIONS: Mental Health First Aid training appears to be an effective method of improving mental health literacy which can be widely applied. (+info)
Kin discrimination and the benefit of helping in cooperatively breeding vertebrates.
In many cooperatively breeding vertebrates, a dominant breeding pair is assisted in offspring care by nonbreeding helpers. A leading explanation for this altruistic behavior is Hamilton's idea that helpers gain indirect fitness benefits by rearing relatives (kin selection). Many studies have shown that helpers typically provide care for relatives, but relatively few have shown that helpers provide closer kin with preferential care (kin discrimination), fueling the suggestion that kin selection only poorly accounts for the evolution of cooperative breeding in vertebrates. We used meta-analysis to show that (i) individuals consistently discriminate between kin, and (ii) stronger discrimination occurs in species where the benefits of helping are greater. These results suggest a general role for kin selection and that the relative importance of kin selection varies across species, as predicted by Hamilton's rule. (+info)