Krupp DB, DeBruine LM & Barclay P (2005). A Cue of Kinship Affects Cooperation in a “Tragedy of the Commons”. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Austin, TX, USA. June 2005.

Kin recognition systems may be designed to enhance nepotistic discrimination in the distribution of altruistic acts. Although this hypothesis has been applied to dyadic interactions, little research has investigated the effects of kin recognition in the complex arena of group cooperation, an important form of human sociality. Here we test the hypothesis that a cue of kinship may bias cooperative decision-making in circumstances in which the personal benefits of contributing and punishing are removed ("strongly" reciprocal behaviour). Participants played a series of one-shot public goods games with a costly punishment option; in this task, there is a group incentive to contribute to the public good and to punish free-riders as well as a selfish incentive to contribute nothing and to punish no one. The faces of the ostensible group members (in reality, pre-programmed computer strategies) were either self-resembling digital composites of the participant's own face and a stranger's face, or nonself-resembling composites of two strangers' faces. Our results support the notion that strongly reciprocal behaviour is affected by cues of kinship.

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