Skip to main content

Genetic similarity theory: Beyond kin selection

Abstract

We present genetic similarity theory (GST), which incorporates the kin-selection theory of altruism under a more general principle. GST states that a gene ensures its own survival by acting so as to bring about the reproduction ofany organism in which copies of itself are to be found. Rather than behaving altruistically only toward kin, organisms are able to detect other genetically similar organisms and to exhibit favoritism and protective behavior toward these “strangers,” as well as toward their own relatives. In order to pursue this general strategy, an organism must, in effect, be able to detect copies of its genes in other organisms. We order several data sets with this theory including (a) kin recognition studies in animals raised apart, (b) assortative mating, (c) intrafamilial relations, (d) human friendship and altruism, and (e) ethnic nepotism. We discuss a strong and a weak version of GST and offer some predictions for future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Ahern, F. M., Cole, R. E., Johnson, R. C., and Wong, B. (1981). Personality attributes of males and females marrying within vs. across racial/ethnic groups.Behav. Genet. 11:181–194.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Bateson, P. P. G. (1978). Sexual imprinting and optimal outbreeding.Nature 273:659–660.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Bateson, P. P. G. (1982). Preference for cousins in Japanese quail.Nature 295:236–237.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bentler, P. M., and Newcomb, M. D. (1978). Longitudinal study of marital success and failure.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 40:1053–1070.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Berkowitz, W. R. (1969). Perceived height, personality, and friendship choice.Psychol. Rep. 24:373–374.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Berscheid, E. and Walster, E. (1978).Interpersonal Attraction, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Blaustein, A. R., and O'Hara, R. K. (1981). Genetic control for sibling recognition?Nature 290:246–248.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Blaustein, A. R., and O'Hara, R. K. (1982). Kin recognition inRana cascadae tadpoles: Maternal and paternal effects.Anim. Behav. 30:1151–1157.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bouchard, T. J., Jr., and McGue, M. (1981). Familial studies of intelligence: A review.Science 212:1055–1059.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Breed, M. D. (1983). Nestmate recognition in honey bees.Anim. Behav. 31:86–91.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Brigham, J. C., and Richardson, C. B. (1979). Race, sex and helping in the marketplace.J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 9:314–322.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Cattell, R. B., and Nesselroade, J. R. (1967). Likeness and completeness theories examined by Sixteen Personality Factor measures on stably and unstably married couples.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 7:351–361.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Daly, M., and Wilson, M. I. (1981). Child maltreatment from a sociobiological perspective.New Direct. Child Dev. 11:93–112.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Davis, L. S. (1982). Sibling recognition in Richardson's ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii).Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 11:65–70.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Dawkins, R. (1976).The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dawkins, R. (1982).The Extended Phenotype, Freeman, San Francisco, Calif.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Feldman, R. E. (1968). Response to compatriot and foreigners who seek assistance.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 10:202–214.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Getz, W. M., and Smith, K. B. (1983). Genetic kin recognition: Honey bees discriminate between full and half sisters.Nature 302:147–148.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Grau, H. J. (1982). Kin recognition in white-footed deermice (Peromyscus leucopus).Anim. Behav. 30:497–505.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Greenberg, L. (1979). Genetic component of bee odor in kin recognition.Science 206:1095–1097.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behavior: I and II.J. Theor. Biol. 7:1–52.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., and Peplau, L. A. (1976). Breakups before marriage: The end of 103 affairs.J. Soc. Issues 32:147–168.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Holmes, W. G., and Sherman, P. W. (1982). The ontogeny of kin recognition in two species of ground squirrels.Am. Zool. 22:491–517.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Jaffee, B., and Fanshel, D. (1970).How They Fared in Adoption: A Follow-Up Study, Columbia, New York.

  25. Kareem, A. M. (1983). Effect of increasing periods of familiarity on social interactions between male sibling mice.Anim. Behav. 31:919–926.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Kareem, A. M., and Barnard, C. J. (1982). The importance of kinship and familiarity in social interactions between mice.Anim. Behav. 30:594–601.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Krebs, D. L. (1975). Empathy and altruism.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 32:1134–1146.

    Google Scholar 

  28. La Gaipa, J. J. (1977). Testing a multidimensional approach to friendship. In Duck, S. (ed.),Theory and Practice in Interpersonal Attraction, Academic Press, London.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lightcap, J. L., Kurland, J. A., and Burgess, R. L. (1982). Child abuse: A test of some predictions from evolutionary theory.Ethol. Sociobiol. 3:61–67.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lopreato, J. (1981). Toward a theory of genuine altruism inHomo sapiens.Ethol. Sociobiol. 2:113–126.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Mauss, M. (1954).The Gift: Forms and Function of Exchange in Archaic Societies, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Meyer, J. P., and Pepper, S. (1977). Need compatibility and marital adjustment in young married couples.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 35:331–342.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Nevo, E., and Heth, G. (1976). Assortative mating between chromosome forms of the mole rat,Spalax ehrenbergi.Experientia 32:1509–1511.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. O'Hara, R. K., and Blaustein, A. R. (1982). Kin preference behavior inBufo boreas tadpoles.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol 11:43–49.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Porter, R. H., and Moore, J. D. (1981). Human kin recognition by olfactory cues.Physiol. Behav. 27:493–495.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Porter, R. H., and Wyrick, M. (1979). Sibling recognition in spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus): Influence of age and isolation.Anim. Behav. 27:761–766.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Radesater, T. (1976). Individual sibling recognition in juvenile Canada geese (Brant canadensis).Can. J. Zool. 54:1069–1072.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Redican, W. K., and Kaplan, J. N. (1978). Effects of synthetic odors on filial attachment in infant squirrel monkeys.Physiol. Behav. 20:79–85.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Rushton, J. P. (1980).Altruism, Socialization, and Society, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Rushton, J. P. (1984a). Sociobiology: Towards a theory of individual and group differences in personality and social behavior. In Royce, J. R., and Mos, L. P. (eds.),Annals of Theoretical Psychology, Vol. 2, Plenum Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Rushton, J. P. (1984b). Group differences, genetic similarity theory, and the importance of personality traits. In Royce, J. R., and Mos, L. P. (eds.),Annals of Theoretical Psychology, Vol. 2, Plenum Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Rushton, J. P., and Sorrentino, R. M. (eds.) (1981).Altruism and Helping Behavior: Social, Personality, and Developmental Perspectives, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, N.J.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Rushton, J. P., Fulker, D. W., Neale, M. C., Blizard, R. A., and Eysenck, H. J. (1984). Altruism and genetics.Acta Genet. med. Gemellol. (in press).

  44. Russell, R. J. H., Rushton, J. P., and Wells, P. A. (1984). Sociobiology, personality and genetic similarity detection. In Royce, J. R., and Mos, L. P. (eds.),Annals of Theoretical Psychology, Vol. 2, Plenum Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Samuelson, P. A. (1983). Complete genetic models for altruism, kin selection and like-gene selection.J. Soc. Biol. Struct. 6:3–15.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Stalker, H. D. (1976). Chromosome studies in wild populations ofD. melanogaster.Genetics,82:323–347.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Stotland, E. (1969). Exploratory investigations of empathy. In Berkowitz, L. (ed.),Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 4, Academic Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Strayer, F. F., Wareing, S., and Rushton, J. P. (1979). Social constraints on naturally occurring preschool altruism.Ethol. Sociobiol. 1:3–11.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Suomi, S. J. (1982). In Lamb, M. E., and Sutton-Smith, B. (eds.),Sibling relationships, in nonhuman primates, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, N. J.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Terman, L. M., and Buttenwieser, P. (1935a). Personality factors in marital compatibility. I.J. Soc. Psychol. 6:143–171.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Terman, L. M., and Buttenwieser, P. (1935b). Personality factors in marital compatibility. II.J. Soc. Psychol. 6:267–289.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Thiessen, D. D., and Gregg, B. (1980). Human assortative mating and genetic equilibrium: An evolutionary perspective.Ethol. Sociobiol. 1:111–140.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Trivers, R. L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism.Q. Rev. Biol. 46:35–57.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Vandenberg, S. G. (1972). Assortative mating, or who marries whom?Behav. Genet. 2:127–157.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. van den Berghe, P. L. (1981).The Ethnic Phenomenon, Elsevier, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  56. van den Berghe, P. L. (1983). Human inbreeding avoidance: Culture in nature.Behav. Brain Sci. 6:91–123.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Waldman, B. (1982). Sibling association among schooling toad tadpoles: Field evidence and implicationsAnim. Behav. 30:700–713.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Wilson, E. O. (1975).Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Wu, H. M. H., Holmes, W. G., Medina, S. R., and Sackett, G. P. (1980). Kin preference in infantMacaca nemestrina.Nature 285:225–227.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Feeling and thinking. Preferences need no inferences.Am. Psychol. 35:151–175.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. Philippe Rushton.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rushton, J.P., Russell, R.J.H. & Wells, P.A. Genetic similarity theory: Beyond kin selection. Behav Genet 14, 179–193 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01065540

Download citation

Key Words

  • altruism
  • assortative mating
  • friendship
  • genetic similarity theory
  • inclusive fitness
  • kin recognition
  • kin-selection theory
  • personality
  • sociobiology