Linnda R. Caporael (1995) Sociality: Coordinating Bodies, Minds and Groups . Psycoloquy: 6(01) Group Selection (1)
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Psycoloquy 6(01): Sociality: Coordinating Bodies, Minds and Groups

Target article by Caporael on Group-Selection

Linnda R. Caporael
Department of Science and Technology Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180


Human interaction, as opposed to aggregation, occurs in face-to-face groups. "Sociality theory" proposes that such groups have a nested, hierarchical structure, consisting of a few basic variations, or "core configurations." These function in the coordination of human behavior, and are repeatedly assembled, generation to generation, in human ontogeny, and in daily life. If face-to-face groups are "the mind's natural environment," then we should expect human mental systems to correlate with core configurations. Features of groups that recur across generations could provide a descriptive paradigm for testable and non-intuitive evolutionary hypotheses about social and cognitive processes. This target article sketches three major topics in sociality theory, roughly corresponding to the interests of biologists, psychologists, and social scientists. These are (1) a multiple levels-of-selection view of Darwinism, part group selectionism, part developmental systems theory; (2) structural and psychological features of repeatedly assembled, concretely situated face-to-face coordination; and (3) superordinate, "unsituated" coordination at the level of large-scale societies. Sociality theory predicts a tension, perhaps unresolvable, between the social construction of knowledge, which facilitates coordination within groups, and the negotiation of the habitat, which requires some correspondence with contingencies in specific situations. This tension is relevant to ongoing debates about scientific realism, constructivism, and relativism in the philosophy and sociology of knowledge.


developmental systems theory, group coordination, group selection, hierarchy, human evolution, social cognition, social identity, teleofunctionalism