Table 1 Agta stories

From: Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling

Story Plot Promoted social norms Mechanism
The sun and the moon There is a dispute between the sun (male) and the moon (female) to illuminate the sky. After a fight, where the moon proves to be as strong as the sun, they agree in sharing the duty —one during the day and the other during the night. Sex equality, cooperation between the sexes Calculation and comparison of payoffs to cooperation vs. competition
The wild pig and the seacow Wild pig and seacow were best friends and always raced each other for fun. But the seacow injured his legs and could not run anymore. The wild pig was unhappy and carried the seacow to the sea. They could race each other again, pig on land and seacow in the sea. Friendship, cooperation Advantageous inequality aversion
The monkey and the giant The monkey and his other animal friends would like to camp close to the river. However, there was a giant there who would attack whoever went close to the river. They went anyway, and had to take turns to look after the camping site during the night. The giant came and said to the monkey he was going to eat them. Together they plot a defence plan against the giant: the monkey tricked the giant into a cave where they had hidden bee and ant nests. The giant died. The monkey was the leader of the plan. His friends congratulated him, but reminded him that even though he was the smartest animal in the forest, he was still vulnerable, as the monkey-eating eagle could take him. Cooperation, social equality Reverse dominance hierarchy
The winged ant An ant who had wings lived together with other ants. One day she said to herself: ʻI am not their friends because they don’t have wingsʼ. She went to bird and said, ʻYou must be my friend because you have wings.’ Bird said, ʻNo you are an ant and I am a birdʼ. Then she went to the wasp, mosquito and butterfly and they all said the same. Then she went back to an ant and said, ʻYou must be my friend even though you don’t have wings.’ The Ant said, ʻYes you are an ant and I am an ant’. So all the ants welcomed her and said, ʻAnt with wings, you are our queen’. Social equality, group cohesion Social acceptance, group identity
  1. The table shows four Agta stories, the main plot, promoted social norms and proposed mechanisms for norm compliance found in these stories