Behind our sociality (or social capital): Evolution, the Rule of 150, and reading others

Jeffrey J Alcoser, Purdue University


There is a problem with the practice and understanding of our sociality (or social capital). In terms of practice, people have a reduced or muddled ability to read one another (and even themselves), because the modern world compels people to live above and below the constraints and benefits of our evolutionary time-tested sociality as captured in the Rule of 150: the cognitive limit to how many people we can "really know"/call upon for help. In terms of understanding, social capital is currently understood through "traditional" marriage, work, faith, and civic organizations. This cannot be the ground for social capital, especially since these features are radically new to our species. Through my reconceptualization, we will see symptoms instead of causes. For example, mass shootings may be the symptom of the already deteriorating sociality that is not merely the result of rising divorce rates, but a failure to read others. ^




Kevin Anderson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Political Science, General|Psychology, Cognitive

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