Why Hunter-Gatherers Work: An Ancient Version of the Problem of Public Goods [and Comments and Reply]

  title={Why Hunter-Gatherers Work: An Ancient Version of the Problem of Public Goods [and Comments and Reply]},
  author={Kristen Hawkes and Jon C. Altman and Stephen Beckerman and Roy Richard Grinker and Henry C. Harpending and Robert J. Jeske and Nicolas Peterson and Eric Alden Smith and George W. Wenzel and John E. Yellen},
  journal={Current Anthropology},
  pages={341 - 361}
People who hunt and gather for a living share some resources more widely than others. A favored hypothesis to explain the differential sharing is that giving up portions of large, unpredictable resources obligates others to return shares of them later, reducing everyone's variance in consumption. I show that this insurance argument is not empirically supported for !Kung, Ache, and Hadza foragers. An alternative hypothesis is that the cost of not sharing these resources is too high to pay. If… 

Reciprocal altruism and food sharing decisions among Hiwi and Ache hunter–gatherers

  • M. Gurven
  • Psychology
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2004
A model of optimal sharing breadth and depth is presented, based on a general non-tit-for-tat form of risk-reduction based reciprocal altruism, and a series of predictions using data from Hiwi and Ache foragers are tested.

Why Do Men Hunt?

It is shown that there is little empirical support for the view that men hunt for signaling benefits alone, and a framework incorporating trade‐offs between mating and subsistence strategies in an economic bargaining context is presented that contributes to understanding men’s and women's roles in hunter‐gatherer societies.

Hadza meat sharing.

A threshold for biological altruism in public goods games played in groups including kin

This work investigates analytically how genetic relatedness changes the incentive structure of that paradigmatic game which is conventionally used to model and experimentally investigate collective action problems: the public goods game.

What respect?

The equilibrium price of respect is analyzed, showing how it depends on the distribution of material endowments and discussing whether the authors would expect that, as society gets richer, the market for respect becomes more or less important.

High mobility explains demand sharing and enforced cooperation in egalitarian hunter-gatherers

It is shown through a simulation model that demand-sharing families that continuously move between camps in response to their energy income are able to survive in unpredictable environments typical of hunter-gatherers, while non- sharing families and sedentary families perish.

To give and to give not: The behavioral ecology of human food transfers

  • M. Gurven
  • Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 2004
The transfer of food among group members is a ubiquitous feature of small-scale forager and forager-agricultural populations. The uniqueness of pervasive sharing among humans, especially among

Delayed Reciprocity and Tolerated Theft: The Behavioral Ecology of Food-Sharing Strategies

  • D. Bird
  • Psychology
    Current Anthropology
  • 1997
Models derived from behavioral ecology may have the potential to explain a great deal of variability in food-sharing patterns within and between human societies. We use quantitative observational

Family Provisioning Is Not the Only Reason Men Hunt

Gurven and Hill (2009) ask, “Why do men hunt?” As they say, “The observation that men hunt and women gather supported the simplistic view of marriage as a cooperative enterprise. Greater

Costly signaling and the handicap principle in hunter‐gatherer research: A critical review

Here a review of honest signaling theory in both hunter‐gatherer studies and zoology highlights three issues with the costly signaling literature in hunter‐gather studies: an overemphasis on the demonstration of realized costs, a lack of clear predictions about what specific qualities hunting actually signals, and an insufficient focus on the broadcast effectiveness of hunting and its value as a heuristics for signal recipients.



THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION: PUBLIC GOODS AND THE THEORY OF GROUPS. By Mancur Olson, Jr. Rev. ed. New York: Schocken Books, 1971. 184 pp. $2.45

This book develops an original theory of group and organizational behavior that cuts across disciplinary lines and illustrates the theory with empirical and historical studies of particular

Anthropological Applications of Optimal Foraging Theory: A Critical Review [and Comments and Reply]

Recent applications of models of optimal foraging behavior to human foraging economies are summarized and evaluated. These models predict patterns of prey choice, habitat use, time allocation,

Foragers, Genuine or Spurious?: Situating the Kalahari San in History

2 case studies of the Western Kweneng San and Dobi San in Botswana are examined historically to show that contact with the Bantu-speaking neighbors or dominant societies may take other autonomous

Paradigmatic History of San-Speaking Peoples and Current Attempts at Revision [and Comments and Replies]

The time when there were no archaeological data for the Kalahari and the prevailing paradigm persuaded us that all the archives were empty, when presumed foraging peoples were consigned to simplicity

The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism

  • R. Trivers
  • Psychology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1971
A model is presented to account for the natural selection of what is termed reciprocally altruistic behavior. The model shows how selection can operate against the cheater (non-reciprocator) in the

The Limits of Reciprocity

Besides meeting the Nash condition (Axelrod's so-called “collective stability”), an evolutionary equilibrium must be an attractor—either an evolutionary equilibrium point (EEP) or an evolutionary