Visiting anthropologist: How did humans evolve to be such “other- regarding” apes? Event as iCalendar

29 October 2013

6:30 - 7:30pm

Humans are remarkably similar to other apes. Like us, chimpanzees and orangutans are extremely clever, use tools and exhibit rudimentary understanding of causality and what others intend. However, they are not nearly as good at understanding the intentions of others nor nearly so eager to accommodate or help them. By contrast, right from an early age, humans are eager to help and share. It was this combination of understanding what others intend along with impulses to help and please them that enabled our ancestors to coordinate behavior in pursuit of common goals - with spectacular consequences later on.

So how and why did such other-regarding capacities emerge in creatures as self-serving as non-human apes are? And why in the line leading to the genus Homo, but not in other apes? Hrdy hypothesizes that the psychological and emotional underpinnings for these “other-regarding” impulses emerged early in hominin evolution as byproducts of shared parental and alloparental care and provisioning of young

Presented by: Professor Emerita Sarah Hrdy, University of California-Davis