Infant Cries As Evolutionary Melodrama
Extortion or Deception?
Crying is melodramatic in the sense that crying babies seem to respond to a great variety of distressing situations with behaviors, such as gasping, choking, and panting that would be appropriate to a very specific respiratory emergency. In this paper we develop models to explore whether extortion or deception is the more plausible origin of the melodrama in a baby's cry. According to these models, deception seems a more plausible origin than extortion because extortion requires the incoherent assumption that nature can select against the genetic interests of an organism. By comparison, the assumptions required to rationalize a deception explanation — that the parent share in the benefits given to its offspring — seem relatively harmless and consistent with contemporary sociobiological theory.
Cited by 6 other publications
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