Human World

Carol Ward finds being social helped humans evolve

Carol Ward: Social interactions are the defining feature of humans, and have shaped all of modern human biology and have set us apart as a species.

That’s anthropologist Carol Ward, of the University of Missouri at Columbia. According to her research, our ‘social intelligence’ – how we learn to interact with each other – has played a large role in our evolution.

Carol Ward: What we realized in looking at the data, and thinking about how the brain works, and how we’re similar and different from other animals, is that it’s really the social interactions that have shaped human evolution. None of the other theories explain all of the aspects of human uniqueness and how it fits together.

Ward said fossil records as well as archeological evidence of behavior, show that the hominid brain increased 250 percent in less than 3 million years. Ward said that throughout human evolution, social interaction became increasingly important to evolutionary success. Humans needed large brains, she said, to negotiate different social settings and social groups.

Carol Ward: It’s the interaction with members of our own species – in terms of competition, cooperation, and help that has shaped the evolution of the human brain and human abilities.

Our thanks to:
Carol Ward
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO

August 23, 2009
Human World

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