Emergence of shared intentionality is coupled to the advance of cumulative culture

Simon Angus, Jonathan Newton

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16 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence that the sharing of intentions was an important factor in the evolution of humans unique cognitive abilities. Here, for the first time, we formally model the coevolution of jointly intentional behavior and cumulative culture, showing that rapid techno-cultural advance goes hand in hand with the emergence of the ability to participate in jointly intentional behavior. Conversely, in the absence of opportunities for significant techno-cultural improvement, the ability to undertake jointly intentional behavior is selected against. Thus, we provide a unified mechanism for the suppression or emergence of shared intentions and collaborative behavior in humans, as well as a potential cause of inter-species diversity in the prevalence of such behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004587
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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