Synthesizing existing work from diverse disciplines, this paper introduces a culture-gene coevolutionary approach to human behavior and psychology, and applies it to the evolution of cooperation. After a general discussion of cooperation in humans, this paper summarizes Dual Inheritance Theory and shows how cultural transmission can be brought under the Darwinian umbrella in order to analyze how culture and genes coevolve and jointly influence human behavior and psychology. We then present a generally applicable mathematical characterization of the problem of cooperation. From a Dual Inheritance perspective, we review and discuss work on kinship, reciprocity, reputation, social norms, and ethnicity, and their application to solving the problem of cooperation. (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments front around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether the uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the University students used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public goods, and dictator games in a range of small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions. We found, first, that the canonical model - based on self-interest - fails in all of the societies studied. Second, our data reveal substantially more behavioral variability across social groups than has been found in previous research. Third, group-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games. Fourth, the available individual-level economic and demographic variables do not consistently explain game behavior, either within or across groups. Fifth, in many cases experimental play appears to reflect the common interactional patterns of everyday life.
We would like to thank the commentators for their generous comments, valuable insights and helpful suggestions. We begin this response by discussing the selfishness axiom and the importance of the preferences, beliefs, and constraints framework as away of modeling some of the proximate influences on human behavior. Next, we broaden the discussion to ultimate-level (that is evolutionary) explanations, where we review and clarify gene-culture coevolutionary theory, and then tackle the possibility that evolutionary approaches that exclude culture might be sufficient to explain the data. Finally, we consider various methodological and epistemological concerns expressed by our commentators.