Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Social Authority

  • Bin-Bin ChenEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1086-1



Social authority is an individual or institution that has legal power and control in a social system or makes decisions and enforces rules.


In hunter-gatherer societies, living in a group is more adaptive than living alone. Groups are better able to cope with natural disasters, such as earthquake and famine, and social problems, such as fighting against intruders and predators, than individuals. Thus, in the evolutionary past - and in contemporary human societies - being a member of a group had survival value and offered reproductive advantages (Baumeister and Leary 1995; Kenrick et al. 2010). In addition, members of a group may encounter recurrent problems that not every member can solve alone. These problems create pressure and circumstances favorable to the emergence of a social authority composed of experienced individuals who can lead and help other group members to solve problems. Following...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus