The Dynamics of Men’s Cooperation and Social Status in a Small-Scale Society




We propose that networks of cooperation and allocation of social status co-emerge in human groups. We substantiate this hypothesis with one of the first longitudinal studies of cooperation in a preindustrial society, spanning 8 years. Using longitudinal social network analysis of cooperation among men, we find large effects of kinship, reciprocity and transitivity in the nomination of cooperation partners over time. Independent of these effects, we show that (i) higher-status individuals gain more cooperation partners, and (ii) individuals gain status by cooperating with individuals of higher status than themselves. We posit that human hierarchies are more egalitarian relative to other primates species, owing in part to greater interdependence between cooperation and status hierarchy.

Document Type

Post-print Article

Publication Date



Refer to Dr. Christopher von Rueden's website for further information.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2019 The Author(s), published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1367

The definitive version is available at:


Full Citation:

von Rueden, Christopher R., Daniel Redhead, Rick O’Gorman, Hillard Kaplan, and Michael Gurven. “The Dynamics of Men’s Cooperation and Social Status in a Small-Scale Society.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286, no. 1908 (July 2019): 1-9. doi:10.1098/rspb.2019.1367.