Human Beings as Evolved Nepotists - Exceptions to the Rule and Effects of Cost of Help
Steve Stewart-Williams; 2008
Inclusive fitness theory provides a compelling explanation for the evolution of altruism among kin. However, a completely satisfactory account of non-kin altruism is still lacking. The present study compared the level of altruism found among siblings with that found among friends and mates and sought to reconcile the findings with an evolutionary explanation for human altruism. Participants (163 males and 156 females) completed a questionnaire about help given to a sibling, friend, or mate. Overall, participants gave friends and mates as much or more help than they gave siblings. However, as the cost of help increased, siblings received a progressively larger share of the help, whereas friends and mates received a progressively smaller share, despite the fact that participants were closer emotionally to friends and mates than they were to siblings. These findings help to explain the relative standing of friends and mates as recipients of altruistic aid.