Between-group competition elicits within-group cooperation in children

Majolo, Bonaventura and Marechal, Laetitia (2017) Between-group competition elicits within-group cooperation in children. Scientific Reports, 7 (43277). ISSN 2045-2322

Full content URL: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep43277

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Abstract

Aggressive interactions between groups are frequent in human societies and can bear significant fitness costs and benefits (e.g. death or access to resources). During between-group competitive interactions, more cohesive groups (i.e. groups formed by individuals who cooperate in group defence) should out-perform less cohesive groups, other factors being equal (e.g. group size). The cost/benefit of between-group competition are thought to have driven correlated evolution of traits that favour between-group aggression and within-group cooperation (e.g. parochial altruism). Our aim was to analyse whether the proximate relationship between between-group competition and within-group cooperation is found in 3–10 years old children and the developmental trajectory of such a relationship. We used a large cohort of children (n = 120) and tested whether simulated between-group competition increased within-group cooperation (i.e. how much of a resource children were giving to their group companions) in two experiments. We found greater within-group cooperation when groups of four children were competing with other groups then in the control condition (no between-group competition). Within-group cooperation increased with age. Our study suggests that parochial altruism and in-group/out-group biases emerge early during the course of human development.

Keywords:Competition, Cooperation
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:26684
Deposited On:10 Mar 2017 11:03

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