Uniquely Human Prosocial Behaviors

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
Uniquely Human Prosocial Behaviors

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This chapter opens with a description of four phases in the evolution of human societies. In the first phase, humans formed small hierarchically-organized groups similar to those of other primates. In the second phase, they formed egalitarian groups similar to contemporary hunters and gatherers. In the third phase, they formed tribal coalitions, and in the final phase, they created the large complex societies in which most modern humans live. The unique forms of deference, self-control, altruism, and cooperation that uphold the social structures of modern societies are described, and evidence that human are disposed to behave in these ways is reviewed. Although humans help their offspring and other relatives, engage in simple forms of concrete reciprocity, and display emotional reactions that seem similar to those of other primates, they also help people from third world countries, participate in highly complex systems of cooperation, and communicate their thoughts and feelings symbolically.

Keywords: hierarchical groups; egalitarian groups; hunters and gatherers; tribal coalitions; modern societies; deference; self-control; altruism; cooperation

Chapter.  5545 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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