• organism;
  • group;
  • community;
  • interdependence relationships;
  • social values;
  • evolution


Human social behavior is strongly conditioned by the interdependence relationships that actors, be they individuals or groups, share, as well as the outcomes or values they pursue for self and/or for interdependent others. The economist Kenneth Boulding (1978) has recently set forth a theory of human social behavior that considers the role of biological and cultural evolution in the development and functioning of three major systems of human interdependence. The present paper first briefly describes Boulding's theory in terms of his characterization of the evolution of threat, exchange, and integrative systems of relationship. Subsequently, social values are conceptually defined in terms of actors' preferences for differing distributions of resources for self and/or others. An evaluation is made of threat, exchange, and integrative systems, first in terms of the relative dominance of the particular values that are observed within particular interdependence systems, and second in regard to how cultural norms evolve to control the expression of values within each system. Then, the ways in which various social and behavioral scientists have conceptualized the structures and processes of interdependence are summarized. Finally, two examples are used to illustrate the kinds of issues that emerge when one considers the possible relationships that may obtain among evolution, systems of interdependence, and social values.