Wireless communication is an increasingly ubiquitous and important resource substrate of the digital ecosystem. In the face of the rapid growth in the population of Internet of Things (IoT), however, uncoordinated access to limited resources of radio spectrum is likely to lead to mass starvation. Here we put forward a new bio-social paradigm for cognitive radio, extending previous models in which the secondary users of spectrum alternate stochastically between foraging and consuming behaviors. In this paper, we ask and resolve two questions: (1) What costs and benefits does social deference to the group yield for each of the individuals therein? and (2) Can a notion of individual 'hunger' form the basis of a distributed social deference scheme that is free of group coordination costs? Through a series of simulation experiments grounded in a well-specified formal model, we show that social deference improves both the fairness and the reliability of spectrum resource allocation, and moreover, that the concept of individual 'hunger' can be used to implement social deference with minimal group coordination overhead. The results have consequences both in suggesting potential improvements for distributed spectrum access, and in understanding the evolutionary pressures on the behaviors of individual devices within emerging digital IoT societies.