Cultural transmission and the evolution of cooperative behavior

Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Sociobiological theory predicts that humans should not cooperate with large groups of unrelated individuals. This prediction is based on genetic models that show that selection acting on variation between large unrelated groups will generally be much weaker than selection acting on variation between individuals. Recently, several authors have presented related models of human evolution that integrate cultural and genetic transmission of behavior. We show that in such models group selection is potentially a strong force. Data on ethnocentrism is examined in the context of these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-351
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • altruism
  • cultural inheritance
  • dual inheritance
  • group selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Ecology


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