Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Manipulative Use of Kin Terminology

  • Anna RotkirchEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1511-1



Humans use language to recognise kin, and this ability can be extended to fictive kin such as close friends and ideological allies. Our closest genetic family ties, denoting one-half degree of genetic relatedness (“sister”, “brother”, “father”, “mother”, “child”), are typically used to signal strong social bonding and manipulate group identity. More distant terminology, denoting one-fourth to one-eigth degree of relatedness such as “cousin”, “aunt” and “grandparent”, appears to be less frequently used. Cross-generational terms denote respect and dominance, while within-generational terms signal solidarity and closeness. The use of fictive linguistic kin terms is a major strategy in the institutional manipulation of individuals.


Our first strong attachments are typically formed to parents and siblings. The connotations of these terms have made their metaphorical use common throughout cultures. The aim is...


Muslim Brotherhood Strong Social Bonding Everyday Social Life Biological Family Member Cooperative Breeding System 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research InstituteVäestöliitto – Finnish Family FederationHelsinkiFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Minna Lyons
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK