Are people selfish or altruistic? Are we basically aggressive or cooperative? The ethos of our capitalist culture seems to be that people are inherently selfish and competitive, so much so that this view of human nature seems to be common sense. There is a lot of evidence, however, that this view of human nature is wrong and that, instead, altruism and cooperation are hard-wired. Very young children routinely seek to relieve the distress of others. Studies of communities following natural disasters reveal that people overwhelmingly exhibit altruistic and communitarian behavior. We need to change our social institutions to make it safe for people to express their basic altruistic natures.
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