Kin recognition  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Kin recognition (kin detection) refers to an animal's potential ability to distinguish between close genetic kin and non-kin. In evolutionary biology and in psychology, such capabilities are presumed to have evolved to serve the adaptive function of inbreeding avoidance.

An additional adaptive function sometimes posited for kin recognition is its possible role in relation to kin selection. There is debate over this additional role, since in strict theoretical terms that it is not necessary for kin altruism or the cooperation that accompanies it. Additionally, in experimental results, active powers of recognition play a negligent role in mediating social cooperation relative to less elaborate cue-based mechanisms, such as familiarity, imprinting and phenotype matching. Nevertheless, much research has been produced investigating the possible role of kin recognition mechanisms in mediating altruism.

Because kin recognition is overwhelmingly cue-based, outcomes are non-deterministic in relation to actual genetic kinship. A well-known example is the Westermarck effect, in which unrelated individuals who spend their childhood in the same household find each other sexually unattractive. Similarly, due to the cue-based mechanisms that mediate social bonding and cooperation, unrelated individuals who grow up together in this way are also likely to demonstrate strong social and emotional ties, and enduring altruism (see Social Bonding and Nurture Kinship).


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Kin recognition" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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