The adaptive origins of uniquely human sociality.
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'.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)