To Share or Not to Share? Social Processes of Learning to Share Food Among Hadza Hunter-Gatherer Children

  • Alyssa N. CrittendenEmail author
Part of the Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans Series book series (RNMH)


The importance of food sharing is tacit in evolutionary models of life history, family formation, and altruism, yet the ontogeny of such behaviors is not well understood. Given that childhood is argued to be the time when other-regarding preferences and egalitarianism develop, it is critical to evaluate how the development of food sharing may influence prosociality. In this chapter, the social processes of learning to share food among Hadza hunter-gatherer children are explored. I combine naturalistic observations of food sharing, experimental data on other-regarding preferences, and ethnographic interview data to determine processes of cultural transmission. The results suggest that Hadza children routinely share food with both related and unrelated partners, although preferentially share with kin. They exhibit many processes of social learning, including observation, imitation, participation, reinforcement, play, and teaching. These data support recent suggestions that prosociality and egalitarianism develop strongly during middle childhood when children acquire the normative rules of their society.


Hadza Hunter-gatherers Social learning Sharing 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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