chapter  13
18 Pages

Parts and Wholes: The Evolutionary Importance of Groups

The aim of this chapter is to suggest an evolutionary model that can accommodate research on self and social identity. The first step is to appeal to more recent developments in evolutionary biology in order to propose a vocabulary consistent with current evolutionary theory and more suitable to psychological levels of analyses. Next, a scenario based on considerations of morphology and ecology is presented. I hypothesize that human face-toface groups consist of a small number of evolutionarily significant core configurations and that uniquely human mental systems are adapted to these configurations. Finally, the model is used to explore two related issues. One is the dual nature of self and social identity as two perspectives on the same phenomena. The other is the curious question of how humans, adapted as they are to face-to-face group-living, nevertheless build and live in largescale societies, an anomaly from an evolutionary perspective as humans could not have evolved to build and participate in large-scale modern societies.