Domestication experiments reveal developmental link between friendliness and cognition
The goal of economics is to understand human preferences. Most research focuses on adult humans and does not take an evolutionary approach. In biology experimental evolution has been able to shift the preferences of animals. As an example, artificial selection for friendly behavior toward humans results in a syndrome of changes that strongly resembles differences between wild and domestic animals. These domestication experiments have revealed precise genetic and neurobiological systems that are altered by the selection and linked through expanded windows of development. Similar evolutionary experiments selecting for a range of social, risk or discounting preferences could push economics toward consilience with biology. Prospects for a unified theory of economic behavior would be drastically improved.
KeywordsDomestication Artificial selection Prosociality Social preferences Decision making Self domestication
- Albert, F. W., Shchepina, O., Winter, C., Römpler, H., Teupser, D., Palme, R., Ceglarek, U., Kratzsch, J., Sohr, R., & Trut, L. N. (2008). Phenotypic differences in behavior, physiology and neurochemistry between rats selected for tameness and for defensive aggression towards humans. Hormones and Behavior, 53, 413–421.Google Scholar
- Albert, F. W., Somel, M., Carneiro, M., Aximu-Petri, A., Halbwax, M., Thalmann, O., Blanco-Aguiar, J. A., Plyusnina, I. Z., Trut, L., Villafuerte, R., Ferrand, N., Kaiser, S., Jensen, P., & Paabo, S. (2012). A comparison of brain gene expression levels in domesticated and wild animals. PLoS Genet, 8, e1002962.Google Scholar
- Browne, J. (2011). Charles Darwin: The power of place. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
- Burnham, T. (2017). She who understands the fruit fly would do more for economics than Adam Smith: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Bioeconomics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10818-017-9268-5.
- Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
- Darwin, C. (1868). The variation of animals and plants under domestication. London: O. Judd.Google Scholar
- Hare, B., Plyusnina, I., Ignacio, N., Schepina, O., Stepika, A., Wrangham, R., & Trut, L. (2005). Social cognitive evolution in captive foxes is a correlated by-product of experimental domestication. Current Biology, 15, 226–230.Google Scholar
- Hare, B., & Woods, V. (2013). The genius of dogs: Discovering the unique intelligence of man’s best friend. London: Oneworld Publications.Google Scholar
- Maclean, E. L., Matthews, L. J., Hare, B. A., Nunn, C. L., Anderson, R. C., Aureli, F., Brannon, E. M., Call, J., Drea, C. M., & Emery, N. J. (2012). How does cognition evolve? Phylogenetic comparative psychology. Animal Cognition, 15, 223–238.Google Scholar
- Theofanopoulou, C., Gastaldon, S., O’Rourke, T., Samuels, B. D., Messner, A., Martins, P. T., Delogu, F., Alamri, S. & Boeckx, C. (2017). Comparative genomic evidence for self-domestication in Homo sapiens. bioRxiv, 125799.Google Scholar