Ethnic nepotism as heuristic: risky transactions and public altruism

Frank Salter

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Ethnic nepotism as heuristic: risky transactions and public altruism

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Kin selection, the popular name given to William Hamilton's theory of inclusive fitness, has been successful in predicting variation in human altruism shown towards kin of different proximity. Kin-selection theory interprets the behavioural universal of nepotism to be a product of evolutionary history. In that theory, the rigors of natural selection meant that altruism — including the unreciprocated giving of resources to another individual — was only viable when practiced between close kin. The theory of evolution underlying ethnic nepotism is not well developed. There are two main approaches. The first is to portray ethnic nepotism as a literal extension of the family variety, with shared homologies in emotions, psychological mechanisms, and releasers (such as perceived attacks on the group). The second approach is to allow for ethnic and kin motivation to be different.

Keywords: kin selection; William Hamilton; inclusive fitness; altruism; nepotism; natural selection; evolution; ethnic nepotism; family; motivation

Article.  7359 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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