Cover image for More than kin and less than kind : the evolution of family conflict
More than kin and less than kind : the evolution of family conflict
Mock, Douglas W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
267 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


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HQ728 .M55 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Sibling rivalry and intergenerational conflict are not limited to human beings. Among seals and piglets, storks and burying beetles, in bird nests and beehives, from apples to humans, family conflicts can be deadly serious, determining who will survive and who will perish. When offspring compete for scarce resources, sibling rivalry kicks in automatically. Parents sometimes play favourites or even kill their young. In More Than Kin and Less Than Kind, Douglas Mock tells us what scientists have discovered about this disturbing side of family dynamics in the natural world. Natural selection operates primarily for the benefit of individuals (and their genes). indirectly, by helping close kin to reproduce. Much of the biology of family behaviour rests on a simple mathematical relationship called Hamilton's rule, which links the benefits and costs of seemingly altruistic or selfish behaviour to the degree of relatedness between individuals. Blending natural history and theoretical biology, Mock shows how Hamilton's rule illuminates the study of family strife by throwing a spotlight on the two powerful forces - cooperation and competition - that shape all interaction in the family arena. In More Than Kin and Less Than Kind, he offers a rare perspective on the family as testing ground for the evolutionary limits of selfishness. When budgets are tight, close kin are often deadly rivals.

Author Notes

Douglas W. Mock is Professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Through the use of splendid examples, from rosewood pollen to penguins to premedical students, this well-written and entertaining book provides an excellent introduction to the evolution of family conflict. Mock (Univ. of Oklahoma) presents appropriate background to allow even nonscience students to develop an appreciation for the genetic basis of sibling rivalry and intergenerational conflict. He details the theory and natural history of sibling rivalry across a broad sweep of animals and plants to illustrate ways in which the simple mathematical relationship called Hamilton's rule links the benefits and costs of seemingly altruistic or selfish behavior to the degree of relatedness between individuals. Countless examples display what scientists have learned about family strife in the natural world by documenting how the powerful forces of cooperation and competition shape all interactions in the family arena, and can turn close kin into deadly rivals. The variety of information presented will appeal to both academics and a broad natural history readership. In fact, most readers of this book will relate to it, having all been children and in most cases siblings or parents. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-level undergraduates and above. K. A. Campbell Albright College

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 In a Family Wayp. 4
2 The Problem with Sexp. 14
3 Nursery Life with Attitudep. 24
4 The Trouble with Parentsp. 34
5 Raising Cainp. 50
6 Killing Me Softlyp. 67
7 Parenting in an Uncertain Worldp. 77
8 The Ultimate Food-Fightp. 84
9 Gambling with Childrenp. 105
10 Beggars, Cheats, and Bad Fruitp. 121
11 Silly Squabbles and Serious Sabotagep. 138
12 Parent-Offspring Conflict Revisitedp. 156
13 Till Death Do Us Partp. 174
14 Upgrading the Kidsp. 192
15 Together Againp. 207
Epiloguep. 226
Notesp. 231
Works Citedp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 261
Indexp. 263