I'd like to take on the evolution of 2 species that are more primitive than humans:
Bonobos and chimpanzees
Both species look so alike that they were considered one for a long time, but their social behavior is so fundamentally different that they are now considered different species.
Chimpanzees deal with stress, competition and aggression by fighting it out. Bonobos deal with the same problems by hugging, cuddling and having sex.
One current theory why their behavior differs so much is that chimpanzees evolved north of the Zaire river, where the bigger and stronger gorillas eat fibrous plants while the chimpanzees have to fight over tree fruits that aren't available all the time in great numbers.
Bonobos evolved south of the Zaire river, where gorillas went extinct after a long drought. So now they have no food competition and can eat the fruits and fibrous plants as well. This allowed them to feed bigger groups, fight less for territory and resources and avoid death by fighting.
That means that harsh environments foster more aggressive societies. It's very well possible that groups would be very tight knit to cooperate with food sourcing and defending their territory, but there would be a lot of fighting between the groups.
Early high civilizations and Aboriginees
We see a similar development in the first known human civilizations. Wherever in the world (Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, America) there emerged a "high civilization", it was always in a fertile environment. The lack of competition for food allowed humans to work and live together in big groups that became cities. The surplus food gave them time to develop intricate cultural rules, a bureaucratic government and new technology. And let's not forget that the conflicts with neighboring cultures and nations forced them to invent new technologies and improve their millitary.
The major advancements in metallurgy have almost all been done for warfare. Copper blades were inferior to bronze blades, those inferior to iron blades, and those inferior to steel blades. In order to cast a canon that didn't explode in your face, inventors had to improve the quality of their metals. In order to guide a missile into enemy territory, scientists had to invent wireless communication. In order to gain bragging rights, scientists had to keep a human outside or earth's atmosphere alive. All these major technological advancements were achieved in the context of conflicts and wars. Although it's plausible that space colonialization might be peaceful, a global nuclear war would certainly speed that development up.
As a contrast to those civilizations, have a look at native Australian Aboriginees. They also developed a very rich culture with an incredible oral tradition, but they are not considered a "high civilizion". Their environment was a lot harsher than the fertile Nile or the lush mesoamerican jungle. They still managed to develop technologies that provided them with enough food and free time to teach their children a rich culture, but the relative lack of resources meant that they couldn't live together in huge cities and build lasting structures. They did develop the perfect strategies to survive in their part of the world, but the incentives to keep on inventing new technologies are missing in their history: constant conflicts with other people that were roughly their own level of technology.