Survival through Friendship
Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 14, 2009
Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece on new research on “Alliance Hypothesis for Human Friendship.” We excerpt the story below.
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While they didn’t study the hit television show, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted experiments on the motives behind human friendship. The prevailing theory is that humans build friendships in order to exchange goods and services, Penn psychologist Peter DeScioli, a co-author of the study, said in a news release. But that theory doesn’t explain studies that show people usually don’t keep tabs on the benefits they get from a friendship and will often help friends who are unable to repay them.
The new theory, called the Alliance Hypothesis for Human Friendship, argues that friendships form because of cognitive mechanisms aimed at creating alliances — or ready-made support groups of people. Under this theory, how you rank your best friends is closely related to how they rank you. And friends tend to be valued according to who is the most helpful in settling conflicts and based on how many strong commitments they have to others.
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