There are Free Lunches Statement of Intentions

There are Free Lunches: Behavioral Clues to Live Happy in the Economic World is a blog that intends to present updated and relevant information about the "hidden" and only recently uncovered dimensions of the economic science: the behavioral factors. With this blog we intend to promote in Europe and in the rest of the World, the top research articles and perspectives on behavioral economics, decision making, consumer behavior, and general behavioral science. We aim to be followed by journalists, academics, managers, civil servants, and everyone who wishes to improve their daily interaction with the economic world and consequently, their lives' happiness.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

O2 #1 No, we are not selfish – co-operation is at the heart of our existence (via The Guardian)

Far from being quaint and anachronistic, collaboration and co-operation underpin our most innovative activities

We are born selfish. Self-interest is the actuating force for economic activity. Without the rules and laws, sanctions and taxes of the state, we would descend into a war of all against all. Evolutionary science and political economy – from Adam Smith and Thomas Hobbes, to Milton Friedman and Richard Dawkins – tell us selfishness is our default mode.

What if they were completely wrong? Science increasingly suggests they are.

Evidence from evolutionary biology and psychology, anthropology and game theory shows our uniquely sophisticated capacity for co-operation is at the heart of our evolutionary success. Science is telling us we are co-operators.

We breed babies that develop slowly and need a lot of care. According to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, professor of anthropology at the University of California, mothers in hunter-gatherer tribes needed help, especially from older women, to cope with child-rearing and to supplement the food brought back by hunters. The babies most likely to survive would have been good at eliciting support, showing pro-social tendencies and emotions.

For most of human history the only sure way to get food on a regular basis was to be co-operative: if a hunter returned with nothing they would rely on sharing food brought in by other more successful band members. Richard Wrangham, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard, argues that we evolved large brains because our ancestors worked out how to cook food to make it more digestible and so to provide more energy. Hunting, cooking and eating together required tolerant temperaments and skills of co-operation.

Go here if you want to read Charles Leadbeater complete article: Co-operation

No comments:

Post a Comment