In whom do you put your trust? This is one of the most ancient dilemmas of life on Earth. Evolution has crafted several answers, yet one solution to the problem is completely unique in humans. The first answer was simple – trust family. With the universal success of this solution, behaviors that privileged kin became written in the code of most life on Earth. The next solution, for brainy enough animals, was – trust friends. Friendship serves as a kind of natural insurance policy, but with its computational expenses, it too was limited in scope. As humans became one of the most successful animals on the planet, we scaled beyond the capacity for face-to-face relationships. Our success came back to haunt us. As we proliferated in droves, we became encroached by strangers. Humanity needed a new answer to the question. The newest answer was – trust tribe. Tribes are a kind of secret society, where the signals of coalitionary alliance grant you the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of the collective “imagined order.” In this presentation we will explore how our Tribe Drive has led to a current state of social mismatch. We will use applied evolutionary anthropology, and the ProSocial method to explore the ways in which we can leverage this instinct to fight mismatch and enhance human wellness.
David Samson is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Director of the Sleep and Human Evolution Lab (SHEL). He is the author of Our Tribal Future: How To Channel Our Foundational Human Instincts into a Force For Good. David’s research directly addresses the central anthropological question of human uniqueness. His comparative research program focuses on human and non-human primates (and wolves and dogs) around the globe to better understand the behavioral, physiological, and cognitive suite of traits that likely played a crucial role in our success. David’s high-profile research program has been featured in such venues as BBC, Time, The New York Times, New Scientist, The National Geographic Society and The Atlantic.
ProSocial Commons will be hosting a book club reading of Our Tribal Future following author David Samson's seminar, starting on October 2nd. Learn more here.