Sunday, May 21, 2006

Do men hunt to provision or to show off?

A new paper in Current Anthropology:

Prestige or Provisioning? A Test of Foraging Goals among the Hadza
Brian Wood

Current Anthropology, 47:383-387

Tests of hypotheses
concerning the foraging goals of Hadza men and women using an interview involving a hypothetical instance of foraging group formation show that most Hadza men and all Hadza women prefer to join foraging groups that ensure the greatest household provisioning advantages. Men with dependent offspring are no more likely to choose a strategy beneficial for household provisioning than men without dependent offspring. These results suggest that most Hadza men agree with women's camp preferences and value family provisioning more than broadcasting signals of their hunting ability when deciding with whom to live.

Some have argued that the predominant motivation for male hunting (especially of large game) is to aquire benefits of prestige. This paper fails to support this hypothesis as it shows that Hadza men prefer to join a camp with a lot of good hunters rather than join a group of poor hunters (where they might have higher prestige, themselves). This is similar to the question of whether to join a team of very good players (not so much individual prestige) or join a team of mediocre players (more individual prestige). I think than in this and the hunting case, mens' responses will differ based on their own hunting ability and will also be partly based on the fact that a really good hunter/player can't be good when he isn't surrounded by other equally good players/hunters. I am not sure to what degree teamwork is an important part of Hadza hunting.
final thoughts:
- two hypotheses examined in this paper are not mutually exclusive.
- prestige seems to be more of a byproduct than a primary motivator for male hunting, and is probably dependent on marital status/age/number of dependent offspring (as shown in the Ache, but not here).



1 comment:

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