The adaptive origins of uniquely human sociality.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Humans possess some unique social-cognitive skills and motivations, involving such things as joint attention, cooperative communication, dual-level collaboration and cultural learning. These are almost certainly adaptations for humans' especially complex sociocultural lives. The common assumption has been that these unique skills and motivations emerge in human infancy and early childhood as preparations for the challenges of adult life, for example, in collaborative foraging. In the current paper, I propose that the curiously early emergence of these skills in infancy--well before they are needed in adulthood--along with other pieces of evidence (such as almost exclusive use with adults not peers) suggests that aspects of the evolution of these skills represent ontogenetic adaptations to the unique socio-ecological challenges human infants face in the context of a regime of cooperative breeding and childcare. This article is part of the theme issue 'Life history and learning: how childhood, caregiving and old age shape cognition and culture in humans and other animals'.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • July 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 375 / 1803

Start / End Page

  • 20190493 -

PubMed ID

  • 32475332

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7293151

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2970

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8436

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rstb.2019.0493


  • eng