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The Evolution of Social Structure: Why Biology Matters.

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Title: The Evolution of Social Structure: Why Biology Matters. Author: Malia Prietto Last modified by: Malia Prietto Created Date: 9/30/2008 6:30:11 PM – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Evolution of Social Structure: Why Biology Matters.


1
The Evolution of Social Structure Why Biology
Matters.
  • Pierce, B. White, R. (1999). The evolution of
    social structure why biology matters. Academy of
    Management Review, 24, 843-853.

2
Video
  • video clip

3
Introduction
  • Human behavior, including social behavior, is a
    result of the interplay between perceived
    environmental cues and innate psychological
    mechanisms
  • Our evolutionary ancestors have been members of
    social groups for millions of years
  • Psychological mechanisms that helped our
    ancestors solve survival problems have become
    encoded genetically
  • These innate mechanisms continue to influence our
    social behavior today

4
  • These does not mean that our behavior is
    predetermined
  • Rather human behavior is very flexible because
    these innate mechanisms are domain
    specifictailored to solve specific problems and
    activated only when certain cues are perceived

5
Social Structure
  • Agonic Mode
  • Stable troops of dominant and submissive members
    that travel together
  • Those who attain and maintain dominance do so
    through obvert acts and displays of aggression
  • Members of the group keep their attention on the
    dominants
  • When danger threatens, members look to dominant
    for protection

6
Social Structure
  • Hedonic Mode
  • Behavior is much more flexible
  • Members split into small foraging groups
  • Rank is not rigid
  • When danger threatens, members group together for
    protection

7
  • Why would there be two distinct social structures
    within the same species?
  • Type of structure is dependent upon resource
    context
  • There are four characteristics of resource
    context that are constantly linked to social
    behavior

8
Resource Context
  • Distribution
  • When resources are clumped together, animals tend
    to be more aggressive
  • Visibility
  • High visibility (savannas) encourages competitive
    behavior
  • Low visibility allows animals to forage without
    worrying about competitors

9
Resource Context
  • Predictability
  • When resources are highly predictable, animals
    forage in large groups and behave in an agonic
    manner
  • When resources are less predictable, animals
    scatter into small groups or even forage alone
  • Timing
  • When animals do not wait to consume their
    resources, they are more aggressive
  • When they delay their consumption, they show less
    competitive behavior

10
Parallels in Human Behavior
  • Mechanistic Human Organizations
  • Hierarchical
  • Importance of control, authority, and rank
  • Similar to the agonic mode
  • Organic Systems
  • Stratified, but nonhierarchical
  • Authority flows depending on task at hand
  • Similar to hedonic mode

11
Implications
  • Even though we no longer live on the savanna, our
    innate mechanisms may influence us to behave as
    though we do
  • Employers have the ability to produce a certain
    type of working atmosphere is they utilize one of
    these modes
  • We are social beings, always have been and always
    will be

12
Limitations of Article
  • Even though the authors made a connection between
    the social structures of our evolutionary
    ancestors and the work place today, it could have
    been more defined.
  • Relied too much on outside research.
  • It could have incorporated more studies
    concerning human social structure today.

13
3 Interesting Findings
  • Our ancestors have been members of social groups
    and engaged in social interaction for millions
    and probably tens of millions of years.
  • Despite the variability of the resource context,
    it is apparent that our ancestors grouped
    together in some fashion. This displays the very
    important survival function of a group.
  • Even in the complex world of today, where the
    resource context is much different from that of
    our ancestors, humans undoubtedly form groups in
    order to better their lives.
  • According to Harvard professor Robert Putnam,
    social isolation may be as big of a risk factor
    for death as smoking? it may even be bigger.

14
Test Questions
  • Which is NOT a characteristic of resource
    context?
  • Timing
  • Visibility
  • Amount
  • Having innate psychological mechanisms means that
  • Humans have no free will
  • Humans act like monkeys
  • Humans are influenced by their evolutionary
    ancestors
  • If an employer wanted to promote a free-flowing,
    nonhierarchical working environment, he should
    try to simulate a _______ atmosphere
  • Organic
  • Mechanistic

15
True/False
  • Evolved psychological mechanisms are domain
    specific.
  • Our evolutionary ancestors were not social
    beings.
  • More than one type of social structure can be
    found in a single species.
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