Fictive Kinship and Induced Altruism

Hector N. Qirko

in The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Family Psychology

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195396690
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Fictive Kinship and Induced Altruism

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The concept of fictive kinship as used in the social sciences is ambiguous, but can be understood to reflect social understanding of the lack of biological relatedness between individuals or groups in contexts that are nevertheless deemed important enough for affinity to be designated. Because social and genetic kinship are generally congruent, kin labels and other cues to genetic kinship are likely related to evolved psychological mechanisms associated with kin recognition and altruistic dispositions. As these cues are subject to error and manipulation, altruistic behavior, including forms not subject to reciprocity and inclusive fitness calculations, may be induced through kin cue manipulation. This chapter reviews the arguments and literature associated with fictive kinship and induced altruism, and describes a test of the induced human altruism model. It is hypothesized that organizations and institutions requiring costly sacrifice by their members will tend to develop similar practices associated with kin cue manipulation. Support for this hypothesis is drawn from two examples of costly, unreciprocated altruism in nonkin settings: lifelong vows of celibacy and suicide bombing.

Keywords: Altruism; celibacy; fictive kinship; induced altruism; kin cue manipulation; suicide terrorism

Article.  14479 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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