The Evolution of Friendship
Humans are the most cooperative animal on the planet, forming social connections that impact upon every aspect of our lives, from our health to our politics. Yet how and why friendship evolved remains a mystery. Luckily, some of our closest living relatives also have friends. Monkeys, apes, and other animals support their friends in fights, trade services with each other, and help their friends find food and mates. Recent research on animal relationships suggests that friendship is not solely a human invention but is instead an evolved trait; similar genetic and biochemical pathways involved in the production of friendly interactions are shared across species, and friendship ultimately helps these animals succeed in their daily struggles to survive. Based on recent findings, Lauren Brent will argue that understanding friendship in other animals is the key to unlocking the mysteries of one of humanity’s most complex and deeply rooted traitts.
Lauren Brent works as an evolutionary biologist in the Centre for Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter, and in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Her research strives to understand the evolution of social relationships in humans and other gregarious animals. Her publications include the article Friendship: Friends with Many Benefits published in New Scientist magazine.