Self sacrifice and kin psychology in war: threats to family predict decisions to volunteer for a women's paramilitary organization

The conditions that propel humans to make sacrifices for groups of unrelated, and often unknown, individuals has received considerable attention across scientific disciplines. Evolutionary explanations for this type of sacrifice have focused on how men form strategic coalitions organized around kin networks and reciprocity when faced with out-group threats. Few studies, however, have analyzed how wome n respond to external threats. Using data from one of the largest female paramilitary organizations in history we show that women who have more brothers, women whose husbands serve in the military and women without children are more likely to volunteer. These results provide qualified support for the hypothesis that women are more likely to sacrifice for their country when members of their family are at risk. Overall, our analysis suggests that self-sacrifice and intense bonding with an imagined community of unknown individuals, such as the nation state, may arise out of a suite of psychological adaptations designed to facilitate cooperation among kin (i.e. kin psychology). These results can be interpreted within the framework of kin selection showing how individuals come to view unrelated group members as family. They may also shed light on various theories of group alignment, such as ‘identity fusion’ – whereby individuals align their personal identity and interests with those of the group – and on our understanding of evolutionary adaptations that cause women to direct altruism toward in-groups.

Kin selection | kin psychology | identity fusion | self sacrifice | out-group threat | risk tolerance|

Read the accepted manuscript here

 

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Menikö luonnonvalinnalla jotain pieleen: Miksi nainen elää menopaussin jälkeen lähes saman mokoman vaikkei voi saada jälkeläisiä?

Virpi Lummaa

Our multidisciplinary research team is looking for a post-doctoral researcher for a three-year project investigating life history, social integration and the influence of kin in forced migrants in a 20th century Finnish population.

The project is an exciting opportunity to investigate the consequences of forced migration of over 400000 people during World War II from an evolutionary ecology and sociology viewpoint. These migrants encountered much the same traumas and faced similar prejudices and resentment that current migrants face today, making the study of this population particularly appropriate to gain insight into the present and future of current migrants.
 

John Loehr with his workgroup received EUR 225.000 grant from Kone Foundation in 2016 for their project Learning from the past: the effect of forced migration from Karelia on family life.

The plight of migrants has come to the forefront recently as masses of people have migrated to Europe seeking asylum from predicaments faced at home. Many people in Finland seem to have forgotten that over 400,000 Finnish people had to abandon their homes in Karelia as a result of World War II. In this cross-disciplinary project, directed by John Loehr, an ecological scientist, biologists, sociologists, historians and demographic researchers study how enforced migration has affected family relations, having children, and integration into the community.

Kimmo Pokkinen is a man behind the Finnish church book data which he has been collecting for years. He had a big day recently and there was a fair reason to serve some birthday cake for him at the university. Congratulations!

Carly, Verane, Simon, Kimmo, Virpi, Jenni, Samuli, Martin, Mirkka

The research group spent three intense days having a brilliant Project Meeting in Tampere, Finland in August 2016. The venue was the most beautiful place by the lake, surrounded by the pristine Finnish nature. A perfect venue for the best conference ever! Special thanks to our hosts Jenni and Esko.
Photos from the Project Meeting in Kesämaa, Finland, August 2016. Photos by Esko Pettay / Wild TechPhotos Oy.

Virpi Lummaa's Group: Project meeting in Finland, August 2016. Photo by Esko Pettay

Virpi Lummaa is an outstanding evolutionary biologist and her work has led to significant advances in our understanding of the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of variation in reproductive success and longevity. Her research on humans, based on detailed pedigrees, and birth and death records, revealed the selection pressures shaping life history in pre-industrial populations, and in so doing allowed for the first rigorous, scientific examination of human behavioural ecology. These findings have revealed the complex trade-offs shaping recent human evolution.
The Scientific Medal, Britain's zoological Oscar, is awarded to scientists with up to 15 years postdoctoral experience for distinguished work in zoology.

Virpi Lummaa Scientific Medal 2016 Zoological Society of London