Paola Bressan, Stephen M. Colarelli, Mary Beth Cavalieri
We studied altruistic behaviors of varying biological cost (high, medium, and low) among siblings of varying genetic relatedness (full, half, and step). In agreement with inclusive fitness theory, the relative importance of either reliable (such as co-residence) or heuristic (such as emotional closeness) kinship cues depended crucially on the costs of help. When help did not endanger the altruist’s life, thus making reciprocation possible, emotional closeness was the strongest predictor of altruism; perceived physical and psychological similarity to the sibling amplified altruistic behavior via their association with emotional closeness. When help endangered the altruist’s life, thus making reciprocation unlikely, the strongest predictor of altruism was the ancestrally valid kinship cue of co-residence duration. Emotional closeness predicted costly altruism only for step siblings; its effects were non-significant when siblings were genetically related. Our findings support the idea that emotional closeness promotes costly altruistic behavior by serving as a surrogate kinship cue when more reliable cues are missing.
Bressan, P., Colarelli, S. M., & Cavalieri, M. B. (2009). Biologically costly altruism depends on emotional closeness among step but not half or full siblings. Evolutionary Psychology, 7, 118-132.