Evolutionary origin of ritual behavior in humans


KUNDT Radek LANG Martin

Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Treating collective ritual as a complex signaling system facilitating mutualistic cooperation, together with Martin Lang, we propose an evolutionary model of its origin in the hominin lineage. In our model, we first synthesize the literature dealing with hunter-gatherer ethnography and hominin archaeology and identify similarity signals, coalitionary signals, and signals of commitment to collective action as the main building blocks of the signaling system. Subsequently, we turn to primatology and paleoanthropology to trace these signals in both non-human primates and past hominins. Adding the proximate level to our analysis, we pinpoint distinctive neurocognitive mechanisms scaffolding the three types of ritual signals and track down their presence. Eventually, we connect this evidence with the prevalent socio-ecological pressures for cooperative communication and suggest that by the arrival of H. Sapiens collective ritual had already been selected for as a crucial adaptation overcoming collective action problems.
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