But researchers from University of Colorado Denver, University of British Columbia and University of Santiago, Chile, created an evolutionary mathematical model to unearth a fourth theory. They found that acculturation -- the adoption and imitation of a victor's culture following defeat -- could promote the evolution of intergroup conflicts. In other words, groups may evolve to fight for fighting's sake, despite the costs.
The study, "Acculturation drives the evolution of intergroup conflict," was published June 21 in the journal PNAS.
Evolution - Cooperation - Altruism - Paradoxes - Theory
"I've researched the evolution of cooperation and altruism -- paradoxes in the conventional evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest -- by group selection, but in this case, we wanted to understand the evolution of intergroup conflict," said Burton Simon, PhD, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Colorado Denver, who has worked as a sort of "mathematical anthropologist" for the last decade.
The researchers' mathematical model is based on two classes of people: warriors, who specialize in intergroup conflicts and have a low birth rate, and shepherds, who cannot defend themselves but are highly reproductive. The amount of each within a group depended on the probability that an offspring becomes a warrior or shepherd, a cultural trait passed vertically from one generation to the next.
Study - Group - Dynamics - Types - Events
The study determined group dynamics through three types of events: group extinctions (a whole group dies, e.g., as the result of a drought or a bad crop), fissions (when an overly large group splits into two) and group conflicts due to their "belligerence" (assumed to increase a group's probability of trying to conquer another group). When groups fight in the model, the winner imposes its cultural traits on the loser...
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