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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Human kin detection

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Natural selection has favored the evolution of behaviors that benefit not only one's genes, but also their copies in genetically related individuals. These behaviors include optimal outbreeding (choosing a mate that is neither too closely related, nor too distant), nepotism (helping kin), and spite (hurting non‐kin at a personal cost), and all require some form of kin detection or kin recognition. Yet, kinship cannot be assessed directly; human kin detection relies on heuristic cues that take into account individuals' context (whether they were reared by our mother, or grew up in our home, or were given birth by our spouse), appearance (whether they smell or look like us), and ability to arouse certain feelings (whether we feel emotionally close to them). The uncertainties of kin detection, along with its dependence on social information, create ample opportunities for the evolution of deception and self‐deception. For example, babies carry no unequivocal stamp of their biological father, but across cultures they are passionately claimed to resemble their mother's spouse; to the same effect, ‘neutral’ observers are greatly influenced by belief in relatedness when judging resemblance between strangers. Still, paternity uncertainty profoundly shapes human relationships, reducing not only the investment contributed by paternal versus maternal kin, but also prosocial behavior between individuals who are related through one or more males rather than females alone. Because of its relevance to racial discrimination and political preferences, the evolutionary pressure to prefer kin to non‐kin has a manifold influence on society at large. WIREs Cogn Sci 2015, 6:299–311. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1347 This article is categorized under: Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition
These images, obtained by splicing together photographs of relatives, show how striking family resemblances can be. On the left: sister/brother (Karine, 29 and Dany, 25). On the right: grandmother/granddaughter (Ginette, 61 and Ismaëlle, 12). (Genetic portraits by Ulric Collette, http://genetic.ulriccollette.com. Reprinted with permission).
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A map of the 2012 presidential‐election results in the contiguous United States. Light areas indicate counties where the conservative candidate won; dark areas counties where the liberal candidate won. Although the map is dominated by light gray, the final winner was the liberal and not the conservative candidate, because the light counties tend to be rural and the dark ones urban—and thus more populated. Results of earlier presidential races show a similar pattern. (Adapted from a figure by Mark Newman, University of Michigan, Creative Commons License)
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An example of the type of digital manipulation typically used in self‐resemblance experiments. The man's face on the left has been merged in a 35:65 proportion with the female model's face on the right. The resulting face, in the middle, is then presented to the man. Self‐resemblance is slight enough to go unnoticed, but powerful enough to drive the man's responses. (Male portrait by C. F. Wesenberg, Creative Commons License)
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