Taking sociality seriously: the structure of multi-dimensional social networks as a source of information for individuals

Louise Barrett, S. Peter Henzi, David Lusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding human cognitive evolution, and that of the other primates, means taking sociality very seriously. For humans, this requires the recognition of the sociocultural and historical means by which human minds and selves are constructed, and how this gives rise to the reflexivity and ability to respond
to novelty that characterize our species. For other, non-linguistic, primate we can answer some interesting questions by viewing social life as feedback process, drawing on cybernetics and systems approaches and using social network neo-theory to test these ideas. Specifically, we show how social networks can be formalized as multi-dimensional objects, and use entropy measures to assess how networks respond to perturbation.We use simulations and natural ‘knock-outs’ in a free-ranging baboon troop to demonstrate that changes in interactions after social perturbations lead to a more certain social network, in which the outcomes of interactions are easier for members to predict. This new formalization of social networks provides a framework within which to predict network dynamics and evolution, helps us highlight how human and non-human social networks differ and has implications for theories of cognitive evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2108-2118
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume367
Issue number1599
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • network
  • sociality
  • primates
  • psychology
  • systems
  • ecological psychology

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