Categories: Science

Prehistoric Human Social Networks Resemble Modern Ones

hazda-tribe-cooperators

If prehistoric hunters and gatherers had access to social networking sites, they would probably end up with networks that looked identical to modern ones, according to a study published on January 25th in Nature, which was based upon fieldwork among a tribe of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers.

The research, accomplished by a team of American and British scientists, studied the patterns that emerged in social networks, in which both cooperation and selfishness seemed contagious. It offers a rare perspective on the social psychology of early humans and how it has shaped modern social life.

The ancestors of the human race, who migrated out of Africa 50 to 100,000 years ago, are thought to have lived similar lives to the modern Hadza people, a nomadic foraging tribe that hunts birds and small game around Lake Eyasi in the Great Rift Valley.

The researchers presented 205 Hadza people with a series of tasks, including surveys about preferred camp-makes, to whom they would give gifts, and their willingness to donate their own honey to a communal pool. Harvard post-doctoral researcher Coren Apicella built up a dataset that roughly described the tribe’s tendency toward cooperation.

The Hazda people themselves are one of the most extreme departures of industrialized societies, and they remain relatively isolated from modern cultural influences, state the authors of the study. All of the people examined the properties of social networks, as you’d expect to see in modernized societies.

These properties include the likelihood of similar people forming social ties, friends of friends can also be friends, reinforced social norms, and that popular people befriend other popular people. Social cooperation is a gamble, which entails its own risk. If cooperators cluster, their advantage is further multiplied, which fosters cooperation in a tribe, allowing it to catch on and evolve.

The cooperating structure permits clustering, allowing cooperators to increase their numbers because they benefit the general good of the tribe.

Reference: “Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers” by Coren L. Apicella, Frank W. Marlowe, James H. Fowler and Nicholas A. Christakis, 25 January 2012, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/nature10736

Share
By
SciTechDaily

Recent Posts

Staring Into Hurricane Ian’s Eye: NASA Scientists Are Analyzing the Forces That Made the Storm So Catastrophic

NASA scientists are studying the latest satellite imagery of Hurricane Ian and analyzing the forces…

September 30, 2022

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Captures Closest View of Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa in 22 Years

Observations from the Juno spacecraft’s close pass of the icy moon provided the first close-up…

September 30, 2022

Russian Cosmonauts Undock From Space Station and Return to Earth

Yesterday, September 29, the Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 3:34…

September 30, 2022

Ancestral Heritage and Cancer: New Connection Discovered

The study also identified a new prostate cancer taxonomy. Two groundbreaking studies recently published in the…

September 30, 2022

Scientists Discover the Secret to Making Food Seem Tastier

How does color impact how you perceive food? According to recent research, a restaurant may…

September 30, 2022

Celebrate “International Observe the Moon Night 2022” With NASA

NASA invites the public to participate in the celebration of "International Observe the Moon Night"…

September 30, 2022