Human Nature

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 243–268 | Cite as

Food-Sharing Networks in Lamalera, Indonesia

Reciprocity, Kinship, and Distance
  • David A. NolinEmail author


Exponential random graph modeling (ERGM) is used here to test hypotheses derived from human behavioral ecology about the adaptive nature of human food sharing. Respondents in all (n = 317) households in the fishing and sea-hunting village of Lamalera, Indonesia, were asked to name those households to whom they had more frequently given (and from whom they had more frequently received) food during the preceding sea-hunting season. The responses were used to construct a social network of between-household food-sharing relationships in the village. The results show that kinship, proximity, and reciprocal sharing all strongly increase the probability of giving food to a household. The effects of kinship and distance are relatively independent of each other, although reciprocity is more common among residentially and genealogically close households. The results show support for reciprocal altruism as a motivation for food sharing, while kinship and distance appear to be important partner-choice criteria.


Food sharing Cooperation Reciprocity Kin selection Social network analysis ERGM 



Many thanks to the residents of Lamalera, Indonesia, for their patience, help, and hospitality, especially to my hosts, Y. B. Blikololong and family. I thank Michael Alvard, Steven Goodreau, Darryl Holman, Donna Leonetti, and Eric Smith for comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript, and Wesley Allen-Arave, Michael Gurven, Hillard Kaplan, Jeremy Koster, Paul Leslie, and Mary Shenk for insightful discussions on this topic. Field research was conducted under the auspices of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), with the cooperation of research counterpart Dedi Adhuri. Field research was funded by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Award (BCS-0514559). Postdoctoral research was supported by a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Population Training Award (5T32 HD007168) to the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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