Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Summary of Results and Conclusions: Regional Master Cascade of Social Complexity in Italy, Spain and Mexico

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Summary of Results and Conclusions: Regional Master Cascade of Social Complexity in Italy, Spain and Mexico

Article excerpt

The series of linked articles encompassed within this special issue focused on using bioecological and psychosocial indicators to predict population-level societal outcomes. Our approach is consistent with many theoretical models that posit that multiple levels of environmental organization have mutual transactional and systemic impacts on each other (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). Like these systems models, evolutionary ecological theories of life history strategy affirm that ecological constraints shape groups and individuals both phylogenetically and developmentally, via different but interacting selection pressures (Ellis et al., 2009). Thus, our attempt in these articles was to integrate existing theories, through successive hierarchically nested levels of biological, psychological, and social organization, within a life history theoretical framework to spur future research designed to better test these models. Prior to discussing general implications and future directions for this area of research, we provide a brief summary of the results and conclusions of each of the articles.

Article 1. Figueredo, Fernandes & Woodley of Menie (this issue) set the stage for the entire enterprise by describing the multidisciplinary effort in terms of an emergentist philosophical framework, in which sciences aimed at studying living systems at hierarchically increasing levels of complexity can build on each other to achieve true consilience among the different fields, noting that this is different from subsuming each system into others as when using a reductionist approach. Afterwards, they review the foundational theoretical work of Hutchinson in creating a formal mathematical structure for quantitative theoretical ecology, in which formerly qualitative concepts such as the ecological niche could be more precisely defined and measured, also recounting some of the historical background and controversies surrounding those ideas. They then review the more recent literature applying and extending these ideas to the evolutionary dynamics of behavioral diversification in personality and life history traits. Finally, based on these points, they introduce the theoretical and quantitative analytical frameworks undergirding the remaining articles in the Special Issue, by reviewing the mechanics and the rationales behind the sequential canonical cascade model and the continuous parameter estimation model that are used throughout the entire series of linked articles.

Article 2. Cabeza de Baca & Figueredo (this issue) examine the impact of climate and ecology on population density and life history strategy from population-level data in Mexico, Spain and Italy. While population density was not significantly predicted by climatic and ecological factors, ecological factors that describe seasonally cold weather (higher latitude or altitude, lower average temperature) significantly predicted the evolution and development of slower life history strategies. Increased population density was also a significant predictor of slower life history strategies, although the effect was only moderate in magnitude.

Cabeza de Baca & Figueredo (this issue) also derived implications of these results for the examination of human life history strategies in any future research. It is already known that traditional hunter-gather societies that have stable and predictable ecologies, characterized by stable group membership, exhibit more cooperation than groups with transient group compositions (Smith et al., 2016). Thus, where there is an increase in the stability of group membership, withingroup cooperation among individuals also increases (Flinn, Geary & Ward, 2005). The demands of food extraction in colder, harsher environments and those of manipulating and navigating social environments would have created selective pressures on brain development (see Article 5; Alexander, 1974; Flinn, 2006), and not only on life history traits and behavior. …

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