[Paleopsych] Phil Rushton: Extended Kin Selection and Genes for In-Group Loyalty

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Extended Kin Selection and Genes for In-Group Loyalty
Press release date: 14-Nov-2005:

Downloadable Article:

Genes Contribute to Patriotism and Group Loyalty

Research showing how genes affect group loyalty and patriotism was published in 
the October 2005 issue of Nations and Nationalism, an academic journal of the 
London School of Economics.

Entitled "Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary psychology, and genetic similarity 
theory," it shows how genes provide "social glue" in groups as small as two 
spouses and best friends or in those as large as nations and alliances.

The evidence comes from studies of identical and non-identical twins, adopted 
and non-adopted children, blood tests, social assortment, heritabilities, 
family bereavements, and large-scale population genetics.

For example, identical twins grieve more for their co-twin than do 
non-identical twins. And, family members grieve more for children who resemble 
their side of the family than they do their spouse's side.

Also, spouses who are more genetically similar have longer and more satisfying 

Based on their DNA, two randomly chosen individuals from the same ethnic group 
are found to be as related as first cousins.

Thus, two random people of English ancestry are the equivalent of a 3/8 cousin 
compared to people from the Near East; a 1/2 cousin by comparison with people 
from India; and like full cousins by comparison with people from China.

The study's author, J. Philippe Rushton, professor of psychology at the 
University of Western Ontario said, "This explains why people describe 
themselves as having "ties of blood" with members of their own ethnic group, 
who they view as "special" and different from outsiders; it explains why ethnic 
remarks are so easily taken as 'fighting words.'"

Human social preferences, like mate choice and ethnic nepotism, are anchored in 
the evolutionary psychology of altruism. Adopting a "gene's eye" point of view 
allows us to see that people's favoritism to kin and similar others evolved to 
help replicate shared genes.

Since in aggregate people share more genes with their co-ethnics than they do 
with their relatives, ethnic nepotism is a proxy for family nepotism.

The paper describes the history of the Jewish people as providing perhaps the 
best-documented example of how genetic similarity intersects culture, history, 
and even politics.

Jewish groups are genetically similar to each other even though they have been 
separated for two millennia. Jews from Iraq and Libya share more genes with 
Jews from Germany and Russia than either group shares with the non-Jewish 
populations among whom they have lived over the intervening centuries.

Recent DNA studies of the ancient Hindu caste system has confirmed that upper 
castes are more genetically related to Europeans than are lower castes who are 
genetically more related to other south Asians. Although outlawed in 1960, the 
caste system continues to be the main feature of Indian society, with powerful 
political repercussions.

The paper described the group-identification processes as innate--part of the 
evolved machinery of the human mind. Even very young children make 
in-group/out-group distinctions about race and ethnicity in the absence of 
social learning.


Full Citation: Rushton, J. P. (2005). Ethnic nepotism, evolutionary
psychology, and genetic similarity theory. Nations and Nationalism, 11,

Article Abstract: Genetic Similarity Theory extends Anthony D. Smith's theory 
of ethno-symbolism by anchoring ethnic nepotism in the evolutionary psychology 
of altruism. Altruism toward kin and similar others evolved in order to help 
replicate shared genes. Since ethnic groups are repositories of shared genes, 
xenophobia is the 'dark side' of human altruism. A review of the literature 
demonstrates the pull of genetic similarity in dyads such as marriage partners 
and friendships, and even large groups, both national and international. The 
evidence that genes incline people to prefer others who are genetically similar 
to themselves comes from studies of social assortment, differential 
heritabilities, the comparison of identical and fraternal twins, blood tests, 
and family bereavements. DNA sequencing studies confirm some origin myths and 
disconfirm others; they also show that in comparison to the total genetic 
variance around the world, random co-ethnics are related to each other on the 
order of first cousins.

Professor J. Philippe Rushton, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Department of Psychology,
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario, N6A 5C2, Canada
Tel: 519-661-3685

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