A Stanford study finds that what you might think of as your worst qualities – talking about people behind their backs and voting others "off the island" – can offer surprising benefits for our greater harmony.
Our instincts don't always serve us well. Moral psychologist Joshua Greene explains why, in the modern world, we need to figure out when to put our sense of right and wrong in manual mode.
Tiffany O’Callaghan: You say morality is more than it evolved to be. What do you mean? Joshua Greene: Morality is essentially a suite of psychological mechanisms that enable us to cooperate. But, biologically at least, we only evolved to cooperate in a tribal way. Individuals who were more moral—more cooperative with those around them—could outcompete others who were not. However, we have the capacity to take a step back from this and ask what a more global morality would look like. Why are the lives of people on the other side of the world worth any less than those in my immediate community? Going through that reasoning process can allow our moral thinking to do something it never evolved to.
The secret to why some cultures thrive and others disappear may lie in our social networks and our ability to imitate, rather than our individual smarts, according to a new University of British Columbia study.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy: Biological Sciences (open access), shows that when people can observe and learn from a wider range of teachers, groups can better maintain technical skills and even increase the group’s average skill over successive generations.
The findings show that a larger population size and social connectedness are crucial for the development of more sophisticated technologies and cultural knowledge, says lead author Michael Muthukrishna, a PhD student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology.
“This is the first study to demonstrate in a laboratory setting what archeologists and evolutionary theorists have long suggested: that there is an important link between a society’s sociality and the sophistication of its technology,” says Muthukrishna, who co-authored the research with UBC Prof. Joseph Henrich.
Princeton University Press, 2013 Metapsychology The co-evolution of culture and genes is reinterpreted as that of social institutions; and in so far as the latter vary, so will the forms of cooperation.
We can be healthier, live longer, and make the world a better place by exploring our potential for compassionate behavior, according to neurosurgeon James Doty, founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education,...
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