Bernhard Fink and Todd K Shackelford (2017)

Why Did Dance Evolve? A Comment on Laland, Wilkins, and Clayton (2016)

Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3(2):147-148.

Human dance may have originated from selection to display quality in courtship. This proposal is based on comparative investigation of variation in motor skills in relation to mate preference and selection. However, scholars have also proposed that dance has evolved as a by-product of imitative proficiency. In this view, imitative proficiency plays a central role in dance learning and performance and facilitates movement synchronization among dancers and thus social bonding. Here we comment on a recent paper (Laland et al. in Current Biology, 26, R5–R9, 2016), which favors the latter perspective. We suggest that social bonding through dance has evolved in consequence of the adaptive problem of assessing mate qualities and other social information from body movement. This information may then have been used in strengthening social cohesion.

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