The ultra-social animal


  • Michael Tomasello

    Corresponding author
    1. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
    • Correspondence to: Michael Tomasello, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D 04103, Leipzig, Germany.


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In evolutionary perspective, what is most remarkable about human sociality is its many and diverse forms of cooperation. Here, I provide an overview of some recent research, mostly from our laboratory, comparing human children with their nearest living relatives, the great apes, in various tests of collaboration, prosocial behavior, conformity, and group-mindedness (e.g., following and enforcing social norms). This is done in the context of a hypothetical evolutionary scenario comprising two ordered steps: a first step in which early humans began collaborating with others in unique ways in their everyday foraging and a second step in which modern humans began forming cultural groups. Humans' unique forms of sociality help to explain their unique forms of cognition and morality. © 2014. The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.