Cognitive and Evolutionary Approaches to Fish Distribution in a Trinidad Village
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This dissertation utilizes human behavioral ecology (HBE) and cognitive anthropology (CA) approaches to try and understand fish distribution in a Trinidadian village. HBE identifies universal (i.e., reproductive fitness) factors that explain human cooperative behavior while CA explains culture specific factors that influence cooperation. HBE utilizes detailed behavioral measures to evaluate cooperation, but seldom systematically integrates and tests cultural factors. CA uses specific methods to evaluate cultural factors, but seldom do researchers who use this approach measure actual behavior (e.g., frequency of sharing). This dissertation is one of the first to utilize quantitative methods from both approaches to understand fish distribution in a Trinidadian village. The actual exchange patterns and use of cultural models among two different ethnic groups (Indo-Trinidadians and Afro-Trinidadians) of fisher-folk in a Trinidad/Tobago village are measured. These elements from cognitive anthropology are compared with metrics of HBE (reciprocal altruism, kin selection, costly signaling, tolerated theft) concerning fish catch distribution through ethnographic decision-trees to test the significance and integration of evolutionary and cognitive theories on allocation choices.Results suggest that systematically identifying and testing cultural models alongside HBE metrics can elucidate inter-cultural diversity regarding material transfers and improve prediction rates of transfers. Kin selection and reciprocal altruism show significant influence on transfer patterns, while models of courage, fishing experience, on and off-water work habits, and honesty and reliability also provide reliable predictions of distribution. Local cognitive models "enhance" genetic fitness as individuals who adhere to these and transfer resources among "high quality" kin evidence higher reproductive success.