Your ‘Food Friends’ DO Make a Difference

The Lempert Report
September 20, 2019

A new study led by Daniel Redhead at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has demonstrated that cooperating with the right people may lead to higher social status.

The research suggests that human cooperation and competition are more closely related than they seem according to Chrissy Sexton staff writer at 

“This is one of the first longitudinal studies of social status. Our findings provide some of the first evidence that the relationship between cooperation and social status among humans is bidirectional. That is, humans – compared to other animals – give status to those who provide benefits to groups, and are thus more attracted to these individuals as cooperative partners. At the same time, individuals increase their own status by cooperating with such high-status,” explained Redhead.  

“These findings provide empirical evidence that stresses the broader importance of social interdependence – be it food sharing, food production, friendship or advice – in shaping human behavior, and that this interdependence makes the ways that we obtain social status quite distinct from other animals.” 

Three different times throughout the study period, the men were asked to rank the status of other males within their community and to report which men they regularly cooperated with in terms of sharing food or hunting and fishing together.

The study revealed that men with higher social status gained more cooperative partners over time, and that these partners ultimately gained status themselves.