Inter-group cooperation in humans and other animals

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Social interactions are often characterized by cooperation within groups and
conflict or competition between groups. In certain circumstances, however,
cooperation can arise between social groups. Here, we examine the circumstances under which inter-group cooperation is expected to emerge and
present examples with particular focus on groups in two well-studied but
dissimilar taxa: humans and ants. Drivers for the evolution of inter-group
cooperation include overarching threats frompredators, competitors or adverse
conditions, and group-level resource asymmetries. Resources can differ
between groups in both quantity and type. Where the difference is in type,
inequalities can lead to specialization and division of labour between groups,
a phenomenon characteristic of human societies, but rarely seen in other animals. The ability to identify members of one’s own group is essential for
social coherence; we consider the proximate roles of identity effects in shaping
inter-group cooperation and allowing membership of multiple groups. Finally,
we identify numerous valuable avenues for future research that will improve
our understanding of the processes shaping inter-group cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160793
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number3
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2017

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