Tanzania’s Hadza group sheds light on ancient social networks

The Hadza, who live primitively in Tanzania, have social networks similar to modern ones. People prefer the company of those with attitudes similar to their own, a study finds.

LA Times

Long before Facebook made it possible to share photos of your breakfast with hundreds of friends and let them know just how you feel about your latest parking ticket, humans were forming social networks with essentially the same structure people use today.

A team of researchers has mapped out the relationships among a remote group of 205 hunter-gatherers in Tanzania who live as humans did about 10,000 years ago and found that their social networks are very much like ours, even in the absence of the complicating factors of megacities, cellphones and the Internet.

The researchers found that individuals who are willing to cooperate prefer the company of other cooperative people and that free riders tend to stick to their own kind as well. The results appear in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.

“These networks of primitive cultures are not that different from the kinds of networks that exist in modern society,” said Stanley Wasserman, a statistician at Indiana University who was not involved in the study. “This is great stuff.”

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