In my world, every individual gains the unique ability to shapeshift into the last person they have touched upon turning 16 years old. Somethings to note is one cannot revert back to their original form unless they have touched someone who has were transformed into their original form. In other words, identity becomes a tangible, transferable thing, and once given away, it can only be regained under specific circumstances. Additionally, it's impossible to transform into someone younger than 16, maintaining a level of identity security for the youngest members of society. Furthermore, while the transformation perfectly copies physical appearance, it doesn't fix injuries or conditions: if you lost an arm, and then shapeshifted into someone with two arms, you'd still appear as them, but with one arm.

This trait has been an integral part of humanity since around the year 6,000 B.C. Given these unique conditions, I am interested in exploring how societies might have evolved in such a setting.

In particular, I want to consider how personal identity, social norms, and societal structures would be influenced when one's physical form can be so fluid. How might laws, moral codes, and religions evolve in response to this trait? Over millennia, would this lead to certain unique societal behaviors or structures, and if so, what might they look like?

Furthermore, I'm interested in the implications for conflict and subterfuge in this world. What strategies might be developed for warfare, espionage, and crime when one can adopt another's appearance so easily? What kinds of countermeasures might societies create to protect themselves from misuse of this power?

Finally, how would this affect intimate relationships, family dynamics, and concepts of personal property? With such a fluid physical identity, how might the idea of 'self' and 'ownership' evolve?

I am seeking answers grounded in anthropology, sociology, and psychology to help me understand the broad implications of this ability on societal development. While I appreciate that there are a multitude of possibilities, I'm particularly keen on exploring the most probable or interesting societal adaptations that might arise in response to these unique circumstances.

Keep in mind that all societies from 6,000 B.C. would be immediately affected by this ability all at once.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, Intro. This question is vague beyond the limits of this forum to answer. It is really a "tell me a story about..." question, where the answer entirely depends on how you, as the author, want to tell the story. Any answer would be thoroughly a matter of opinion, and Stack Exchange doesn't allow questions with opinion based answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ "If you can write an entire story and still not answer the question, it's too broad for WB" $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ While I think this would have some very interesting answers, I unfortunately have to agree that this is too 'large' of a question to fit within the scope of the site. Perhaps focusing on how it would affect one very narrow facet of society would bring it more in line. You could then make it a series of questions to eventually get the breadth of knowledge you are seeking. $\endgroup$
    – M S
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 22:52