Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships

Dario Maestripieri

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 046502078X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Most humans don’t realize that when they exchange emails with someone, anyone, they are actually exhibiting certain unspoken rules about dominance and hierarchy. The same rules regulate the exchange of grooming behavior in rhesus macaques or chimpanzees. Interestingly, some of the major aspects of human nature have profound commonalities with our ape ancestors: the violence of war, the intensity of love, the need to live together.

While we often assume that our behavior in everyday situations reflects our unique personalities, the choices we freely make, or the influences of our environment, we rarely consider that others behave in these situations in almost the exact the same way as we do. In Games Primates Play, primatologist Dario Maestripieri examines the curious unspoken customs that govern our behavior. These patterns and customs appear to be motivated by free will, yet they are so similar from person to person, and across species, that they reveal much more than our selected choices.

Games Primates Play uncovers our evolutionary legacy: the subtle codes that govern our behavior are the result of millions of years of evolution, predating the emergence of modern humans. To understand the rules that govern primate games and our social interactions, Maestripieri arms readers with knowledge of the scientific principles that ethologists, psychologists, economists, and other behavioral scientists have discovered in their quest to unravel the complexities of behavior. As he realizes, everything from how we write emails to how we make love is determined by the legacy of our primate roots and the conditions that existed so long ago.

An idiosyncratic and witty approach to our deep and complex origins, Games Primates Play reveals the ways in which our primate nature drives so much of our lives.














and fatigue so that the behavioral algorithms activated by these other triggers are not in competition with the one you now need the most to save your life. Eating a burger, having sex, or falling asleep is the last thing you want to do when you have a gun pointed at your head. Instead, other cognitive processes are activated: you are very alert and start processing other information from the environment and from memory. From the intensity with which the gun is pressed to your head, you get a

descendants of the successful problem-solvers. Thanks to natural selection, we have an innate knowledge of these recurring problems and the situations in which they arise; we have responses to deal with these problems and mental programs that help activate and guide these responses. Each emotion evolved to deal with a particular evolutionarily recurrent situation type. When familiar cues of danger are perceived—and this can happen unconsciously—a particular emotional trigger is immediately

advantageous to both contestants and always preferable to fighting. Resolving the dispute with dominance is good for Yogi, the dominant bear, because he gets the apple without paying the price of fighting. Resolving the dispute with dominance is also good for Boo-Boo, the subordinate bear, although not as good as it is for Yogi. By yielding to Yogi, Boo-Boo doesn’t get the apple, so he gets zero benefits. However, if Boo-Boo Bear had fought and lost, not only would he have lost the apple but he

between smart scientists and phonies. Despite the fact that Mario had only recently obtained his doctorate, he had already achieved some recognition as an independent scientist by publishing articles and being invited to give presentations at prestigious conferences. Twenty years of successful performances, first in school and later in college, had given Mario a high degree of self-confidence. This belief in the value of his own ideas and the quality of his work had also produced an arrogance in

Chapter 5 Cooperate in the Spotlight, Compete in the Dark Coffee, Tea, and Human Nature My research laboratory at the University of Chicago is in the Biopsychological Sciences Building. In one corner of the building’s lobby is a small kitchen with a sink, a refrigerator, and a microwave oven. Tucked behind the refrigerator is a large, ultramodern espresso machine that resembles a laser printer more than a beverage dispenser. The espresso lovers in my building buy massive amounts of

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