Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/28725
Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Selection to outsmart the germs: The evolution of disease recognition and social cognition
Author(s): Kessler, Sharon E
Bonnell, Tyler R
Byrne, Richard W
Chapman, Colin A
Keywords: Agent-based modelDisease transmission
Cooperation
Hominin evolution
Social complexity
Kin selection
Issue Date: 31-Jul-2017
Citation: Kessler SE, Bonnell TR, Byrne RW & Chapman CA (2017) Selection to outsmart the germs: The evolution of disease recognition and social cognition. Journal of Human Evolution, 108, pp. 92-109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.02.009
Abstract: The emergence of providing care to diseased conspecifics must have been a turning point during the evolution of hominin sociality. On a population level, care may have minimized the costs of socially transmitted diseases at a time of increasing social complexity, although individual care-givers probably incurred increased transmission risks. We propose that care-giving likely originated within kin networks, where the costs may have been balanced by fitness increases obtained through caring for ill kin. We test a novel hypothesis of hominin cognitive evolution in which disease may have selected for the cognitive ability to recognize when a conspecific is infected. Because diseases may produce symptoms that are likely detectable via the perceptual-cognitive pathways integral to social cognition, we suggest that disease recognition and social cognition may have evolved together. Using agent-based modeling, we test 1) under what conditions disease can select for increasing disease recognition and care-giving among kin, 2) whether providing care produces greater selection for cognition than an avoidance strategy, and 3) whether care-giving alters the progression of the disease through the population. The greatest selection was produced by diseases with lower risks to the care-giver and prevalences low enough not to disrupt the kin networks. When care-giving and avoidance strategies were compared, only care-giving reduced the severity of the disease outbreaks and subsequent population crashes. The greatest selection for increased cognitive abilities occurred early in the model runs when the outbreaks and population crashes were most severe. Therefore, over the course of human evolution, repeated introductions of novel diseases into naïve populations could have produced sustained selection for increased disease recognition and care-giving behavior, leading to the evolution of increased cognition, social complexity, and, eventually, medical care in humans. Finally, we lay out predictions derived from our disease recognition hypothesis that we encourage paleoanthropologists, bioarchaeologists, primatologists, and paleogeneticists to test.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.02.009
Rights: Accepted refereed manuscript of: Kessler SE, Bonnell TR, Byrne RW & Chapman CA (2017) Selection to outsmart the germs: The evolution of disease recognition and social cognition. Journal of Human Evolution, 108, pp. 92-109. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.02.009 © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Kessler-etal-JHE-2017.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version726.79 kBAdobe PDFView/Open



This item is protected by original copyright



Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact library@stir.ac.uk providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.