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Lucy to LanguageThe Benchmark Papers$
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R. I. M. Dunbar, Clive Gamble, and J. A. J. Gowlett

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199652594

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199652594.001.0001

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Relationships and the Social Brain

Relationships and the Social Brain

Integrating Psychological and Evolutionary Perspectives1

(p.129) 7 Relationships and the Social Brain
Lucy to Language

Alistair Sutcliffe

R.I.M. Dunbar

Jens Binder

Holly Arrow

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the layered structure of personal social networks by integrating an evolutionary perspective with a psychological perspective. Drawing on theory from evolutionary psychology that links the individual level to the broader ecology of groups and networks in which social interaction unfolds, the chapter attempts to elucidate the role of the brain in determining social relationships that differ in both quantity and quality. The chapter first provides an overview of primate sociality before discussing human sociality from an evolutionary perspective. It then proposes a model that combines the evolutionary viewpoint with cognitive mechanisms of trust to explain observed, existing social structures, while taking into consideration a parsimonious set of behavioural predispositions arising from natural selection. It also considers the affective and cognitive correlates of the strength of relationships before concluding with an analysis of cost-benefit trade-offs that govern the distribution of individuals' social investment in others.

Keywords:   social networks, evolutionary psychology, social interaction, brain, social relationships, sociality, trust, social structures, natural selection, social investment

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