“Humans are quite possibly the world’s best cooperators,” according to a summary by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Scientists have concluded that finding innovative ways to help others crosses all societies.
“Need-based transfers are a universal human trait,” said Athena Aktipis, assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University and co-director of the Human Generosity Project. “When people see that someone is in need, and they have the ability to help, very often people spontaneously help without expecting anything in return,” Aktipis said. “This is especially salient during times of disaster.”
She and her fellow researchers observed selfless cooperation everywhere from the Maasai tribe of Kenya to ranchers on the southwestern border, and in locations from Tanzania to Texas, Fiji, and Mongolia.
After they performed in-depth experiments, Aktipis fed the Maasai tribe’s practices into a computer model and found that generosity produced better results than a transactional relationship for everyone, every time—including for the charitable party. This deep-seated drive to cooperate takes its cues from the morality inherent within the broader culture.
“Reputational concerns shape behavior to be prosocial and altruistic,” said Erez Yoeli, the director of MIT’s Applied Cooperation Team.
Much seeming hospitality comes from the expectations, norms, and mores of our peers. Moral suasion renders government coercion unnecessary.
“People tend to be highly responsive to cues of social pressure, and when they see those cues, they increase giving a lot,” Yoeli said. “Without anybody being aware of it, altruism is all happening under the surface.”
We can dismiss the article's criticism of socialism as the website it is on presents a right-wing ideology and that the sponsors of the research, the Templeton Foundation, was set up for the promotion of religion. However, it does not make the core finding that people are cooperative as a species invalid. It is something socialists have always argued.