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Economic and evolutionary hypotheses for cross-population variation in parochialism

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Human populations differ reliably in the degree to which people favor family, friends, and community members over strangers and outsiders. In the last decade, researchers have begun to propose several

Human populations differ reliably in the degree to which people favor family, friends, and community members over strangers and outsiders. In the last decade, researchers have begun to propose several economic and evolutionary hypotheses for these cross-population differences in parochialism. In this paper, we outline major current theories and review recent attempts to test them. We also discuss the key methodological challenges in assessing these diverse economic and evolutionary theories for cross-population differences in parochialism.

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  • 2013-09-11

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Institutions, Parasites and the Persistence of In-group Preferences

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Much research has established reliable cross-population differences in motivations to invest in one's in-group. We compare two current historical-evolutionary hypotheses for this variation based on (1) effective large-scale institutions and

Much research has established reliable cross-population differences in motivations to invest in one's in-group. We compare two current historical-evolutionary hypotheses for this variation based on (1) effective large-scale institutions and (2) pathogen threats by analyzing cross-national differences (N = 122) in in-group preferences measured in three ways. We find that the effectiveness of government institutions correlates with favoring in-group members, even when controlling for pathogen stress and world region, assessing reverse causality, and providing a check on endogeneity with an instrumental variable analysis. Conversely, pathogen stress shows inconsistent associations with in-group favoritism when controlling for government effectiveness. Moreover, pathogen stress shows little to no association with in-group favoritism within major world regions whereas government effectiveness does. These results suggest that variation in in-group preferences across contemporary nation-states is more consistent with a generalized response to institutions that meet basic needs rather than an evolved response dedicated to pathogens.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05-21