Group size, communication, and familiarity effects in foraging human teams
Oesch N., Dunbar RIM.
© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH Exploitation of food resources that are dispersed in time and space has been crucial to the evolutionary success of humans. Recent experimental work has shown that an absence of communication impairs decision-making in a foraging task. Here, we found that individuals in larger teams were more likely to reach group consensus and were more accurate and efficient foragers. Individuals in larger teams were also more likely to gesture to one another, while levels of verbal exchange were not significantly different in small and large groups. At last, teams in which individuals reported that they knew one another and rated team members as helpful and information-seeking were more accurate in their foraging. Overall, our findings offer experimental evidence that larger, communicating, familiar teams are quicker and more accurate foragers. We therefore suggest that complex communication within socially bonded relationships may have been important to the ecological success of the human lineage.