A noisy signal: To what extent are Hadza hunting reputations predictive of actual hunting skills?
Evolution and Human Behavior
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Stibbard-Hawkes, D., Attenborough, R., & Marlowe, F. (2018). A noisy signal: To what extent are Hadza hunting reputations predictive of actual hunting skills?. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39 (6), 639-651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.06.005
© 2018 The measurement of hunting ability has been central to several debates about the goals of men's hunting among the Hadza and other hunter-gatherer populations. Hunting ability has previously been measured indirectly, by weighing the amount of food individuals bring back to camp over an extended period, their central place hunting return rate, and by conducting hunting ability interviews. Despite the centrality of the hunting ability concept, some authors (Hill & Kintigh, 2009) have expressed scepticism that such measures accurately capture individual differences in actual hunting ability. In the current study, we introduce a novel measure of hunting reputation which, unlike previous ones, allows fine-grained distinction between hunters of all reputations. To assess the suitability of this measure as a viable proxy for hunting ability, we address two further questions. First, to what extent do interviewees agree about the hunting ability of their present and former campmates? Second, to what extent does this measure of hunting reputation reflect success in four tasks expected to capture important components of hunting ability? We demonstrate that these measures of hunting reputation appear to reflect variation in these skills. We argue, however, that hunting reputation appears too noisy an index of these skills and, we infer, hunting ability in general for hunting to act, as some have suggested (e.g. Hawkes & Bird, 2002), as an honest signal of cryptic qualities related to hunting ability.
This work was supported by Robinson College Cambridge, the Leakey Foundation, the Smuts Memorial Fund, the Ruggles-Gates Fund of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Cambridge Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Cambridge Centre for African Studies, the Anthony Wilkin Fund and the Ridgeway-Venn Fund.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.06.005
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/286365