Why are we 'programmed' to cooperate – but it doesn't always work

The cooperation is both the “superpower” of an electronic human race is the reason we evolved as a species, and our fragility whether we cooperate in a bad way, for example by corrupt means, or our difficulty in coordinating the response to the global problems, such as the pandemic or climate change.

How, then, can we encourage “good” cooperation between seeing that people electronic while societies, on how to overcome common challenges?

This question is one of the theories that permeate the work of a British psychologist Nichola Raihani, professor of electronic behavior evolution at the prestigious University London University, UK, electronic author perform newly released book The Public Instinct – How Co-operation Shaped the Planet (The sociable instinct – how cooperation shaped a world, not yet translated into Portuguese).

She researches the cooperation since 2004.

“(That) word has become nnimo about bland corporate metaphors, conjuring up images about hand grips on electronic handwork lively. However, cooperation performs much better than that: it is sewn into the fabric of our lives, these more mundane activities, such as public transport to work, there are our most extraordinary achievements, such as operating system rockets launched into space”, writes Raihani in the book.

The author spoke with BBC Information Brasil about a power over cooperation between humans electronic as well among other species, she explained why the ideological orientation changes our perception of one that cooperates electronic because from even corruption It’s a form of cooperation that we need to constantly inhibit.

See the following operating system key excerpts from an interview, broken down into topics:

The ‘superpower’ ‘of human cooperation…

The coronavirus took advantage of our sociability, says Raihani zero book.

“Our public nature nos put into this pandemic, yet it’s also our only way out of it. To fight the virus, we need to cooperate. Fortunately, this we do something extremely well. (…) Cooperation is the superpower of our species, the reason why we not only survive, but thrive in almost every habitat on an Earth,” she writes.

“And what’s less obvious , cooperation is the reason we exist, to begin with. At the molecular level, cooperation is ubiquitous: every living entity is composed of genes cooperating with genomes. Rising to the evolution of organisms, multiple cells work together to produce individuals.”

…And their fragile links

No However, adds the researcher to the report, other manifestations of human cooperation are obstacles to overcoming on real social problems. which involve helping your family, your friends (to the detriment of society as a whole). And we’ve seen in several governments, including here in the UK, many cases of this type of hyperlocal cooperation or corruption that greatly hampered the search for solutions in the pandemic,” explains Raihani. “So we have to cooperate in the right way and on the right scale.”

At the beginning of the pandemic in particular, two forces pulled us in opposite directions: on the one hand, our willingness (or even need, in some cases) to be close to family or friends and, on the other, the importance of insulating ourselves to contain the advance of the virus.

” It is very difficult to reconcile these forces; which causes us a lot of electronic anxiety confusing something. Therefore, it is somehow dangerous to depend on the nature of the individual, asking them to ‘do the right thing’, which was the approach used at the beginning of the pandemic”, he points out.

How, then, to stimulate the What kind of cooperation is needed to overcome challenges like the virus? For Raihani, the output is to establish clear norms, as well as benefits for “good” behavior (and, in certain cases, punishments for “bad”).

“In the field in which I work, Game Theory, we study these social dilemmas in the laboratory all the time, using games in which people interact, cooperate or not. And one thing we’ve seen studying human behavior in these over-controlled environments is that if you don’t have institutions or incentives that make cooperation attractive, for example, if you don’t have punishment mechanisms or incentives for people or for their reputations in general, cooperation is very low between people.”

Climate change, the biggest challenge of cooperation

What lessons can we draw from this for climate change, whose Does reversal require cooperation on a gigantic scale?

For Raihani, our collective pandemic response has not brought much encouragement, unfortunately.

“In many ways, the pandemic is easier to see face. (…) Most of us are motivated to avoid contamination, there is a real economic incentive to face the disease, we now have a vaccine and we know what we have to do to mitigate the spread of the disease. It is not a problem for future generations”, he points out.

“However, what we have seen is what should serve as a warning, regarding how to face the climate changes that the pandemic response was characterized for an often parochial and fragmented reaction in different governments around the world, electronic for the failure in which we are all zero the same boat realizing, to use a rather worn phrase, and that we are very interdependent no country gets out (of the pandemic) until all get out.”

So, she says, “the pandemic makes us feel a little pessimistic about dealing with an even more difficult social dilemma, but personally I think we can do it. I’m just not convinced we will. But do we have to keep our hopes up, or else what to do?”

The value of cooperation on a small scale

In this context, says Raihani, the idea of ​​”thinking globally and acting locally” gains relevance.

“An effective way to tackle large-scale problems when groups of local actors work autonomously to provide global benefits”, she says.

She cites as an example the movement created within the US after former president Donald Trump decided to take the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement (decision reversed by successor Joe Biden).

This movement, called “we are still in” (we are still in, in free translation), ended up adding about 4. 000 leaders, politicians, academics, entrepreneurs and investors pledged to continue to support measures to mitigate global warming and meet the goals established in Paris, despite the federal government’s position at the time.

“This idea that we don’t necessarily need working on a global scale to achieve global benefits is important: there is a lot that individuals can do in local groups, small-scale community initiatives that can generate global benefits,” explains Raihani.

” a message It’s important, because if we insist that solutions will come only if we all act together, the solution will seem unattainable, daunting.”

How Political Orientation Affects Cooperation

To understand cooperation, we also need to understand that different groups will see their moral obligations differently from each other.

In the book, Raihani speaks of the concept of “circle of appreciation moral” (in English original, “circle of moral regard”).

Think of yourself at the center and the people close to you (friends and family) in the first circle, closest to that center . The second circle, a little further away, may be that of your co-workers. The next circle can be that of the people in your neighborhood, your country, and so on.

“The diameter of these circles and who is included in them, in addition to your scope of moral obligation towards them people in helping them move forward in life, for example, varies both within a country and between countries,” explains Raihani.

“Within countries, this varies depending on the political spectrum: conservatives tend to they are smaller in circle than liberals, which means they tend to place more emphasis on family, friends, and the primary duty to help these people, with (a lesser sense of) duty to help strangers.”

“It also varies between countries: certain countries are more individualistic or collectivist. Some people question whether these denominations are useful, but they help us understand the scale on which we feel a moral obligation to cooperate.”

That is why, she says, it is possible to draw links between conservatism and nationalism, forces on the rise in the world today, the “a circle on bad morals more shrunken appreciation, with more emphasis on those close to us and less concern for those far from this circle”.

Our similarity to the Brazilian ants

Although the main focus of Raihani’s research is cooperation between humans, she says she was surprised by some similarities we have with other animals (not just chimpanzees and other primates) in terms of cooperative abilities.

An example cited in the book is that of the Brazilian ants forelius pusillus: while most of them enter the anthill to shelter, a few sacrifice themselves for the group, staying out of the colony to place the final grains of earth that will cover the shelter and protect the anthill from invaders.

And, in a final sacrifice for the sake of the colony, these remaining anthill ants die far away perform, to avoid attracting the attention of predators to the location.

a striking example of the social instinct, says Raihani.

“The interest It is important to me how much we can learn about ourselves as a deeply social and cooperative species by looking not just at primates but at the entire tree of life and seeing what we have in common with other species that have social lives.”

Cooperation between strangers

That said, human cooperation has marked differentials, of course.

“We are the The only species with a Sistine Chapel, which built cities for millions of people who are not related to each other and do not even know each other, so we are clearly different in the scale and extent to which we cooperate”, explains the author.

*)First, she says, we humans cooperate within institutions, with incentives and punishments for those who fit or do not fit into social rules.

Secondly, a big difference lies in human psychology.

“The ant that heroically sacrifices itself for the colony, from our perspective, (practiced) an act of bravery. But from the ant’s perspective, the cognition that underlies this behavior is hardly even remotely similar to this. So although we may have similar (cooperative) behaviors, we used a completely different cognition to achieve them, which in part allowed us to scale our cooperation in different contexts and different frequencies.”

‘The Apprentice’ in human evolution

The root of this is also in the cooperation and competition between our genes, she argues.

Raihani defends Similar ideas are those of Richard Dawkins, author of O Gene Egosta (1976), who theorizes how species arise and diversify The title of the book, says Raihani, made many people relate this nefarious theory to “something, bad, evil attributes of selfish people. There is an error (of understanding) about the book, that only selfish genes would thrive and that these genes are found within selfish people and none of these things are true.”

She explains that, in fact, it is carry out on each gene not to be passed on t future generations effort.

“Cooperation (with other genes) is a way for the gene to secure its self-interest. Cooperation and self-interest are often the same thing. (…) Electronic we know that selfish genes in all people are, from the kindest people, Mother Teresas world perform, to the worst examples of humanity. They are self-interested genes in the sense that they seek self-interest, because genes that do not seek it simply cease to be in our genetic makeup.”

When cooperation ceases to make sense for one’s self-interest given gene, it fails to cooperate just as individuals do within a society.

Raihani compares this dynamic to the reality show The Apprentice the one who lou Donald Trump world fame in the years 1976.

In the program, the competitors are divided into two teams, which compete with each other and, therefore, the individuals cooperate within the group to defeat the opponents. Losing ipe, however, one individual will be eliminated. At this stage, the group members are no longer interested in collaborating, and start to compete among themselves for staying in the program.

“I use this example to illustrate that certain characteristics can sometimes make beneficial that genes , cells or individuals work together. But when that beneficial context ends, you see competition emerge among that group of individuals,” analyzes Raihani.

“The analogy shows that cooperation is very context-sensitive. If the context changes, the cooperation can completely evaporate. We see examples of this all the time. In a football game, for example, there is a real tension between collaborating for the group to win and trying to be the star of the game. And in a children’s game , who don’t understand this concept of passing the ball among themselves, they always want to be with the electronic ball to be whoever scores the goal. (…) We see this tension between cooperation and self-interest unfold in many different scenarios, with many different developments.”

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