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Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

Creating quantitative models

Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, computer simulations of society were developed.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/issue/37/currents/selfishness-is-learned

nautil.us

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Key Ideas

Creating quantitative models

Most of the psychological theories are verbal, but words can be imprecise. If "cooperation is intuitive", it needs to state when. And what does "intuitive" mean?

In order to solve this, computer simulations of society were developed.

The Sims computer simulation

These models represent collections of individual people described by computer algorithms that capture a specific set of traits, such as a tendency to cooperate or not.

  • You can give them new personalities to see how they would behave.
  • You can observe social processes in action.
  • You can observe time scales, from seconds to generations.
  • You can watch the spread of certain behaviors throughout a population and you can see how certain behaviors influence other behaviors.

The patterns that emerge can tell you things about large-scale social interaction that lab experiments and real people never could.

The human instinct to cooperate

There seems to be evolutionary logic to the human ability to cooperate but adjust if necessary. To trust, but verify. 

We generally collaborate with other people because it benefits us. Our rational minds let us work out when we might occasionally gain by acting selfishly instead.

Getting people to cooperate more

Our intuitions are not fixed at birth. We develop social rules of thumb for interpersonal behavior based on the interactions we have. 

Change those interactions, and you change behavior.

Encouraging cooperation

In many situations, people are rewarded for backstabbing and ladder climbing.

In order to encourage cooperation where cooperation isn't the norm, companies might offer bonuses and recognition for cooperative behavior. Encouraging people to make decisions quickly can also bring out their better behavior.

Understanding morality

Psychologists do not understand human moral behavior, because it seldom makes any logical sense.

Using moral philosophy and psychology, biology, economics, mathematics, and computer science, scientists are trying to study how morality operates in the real world.

Our default mode

Through a series of experiments, it was discovered that despite the temptation to be selfish, most people show selflessness.

This is particularly true when subjects were forced to make their decision under time pressure; people are prone to cooperation when they rely more on intuition.

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The rational manner

When faced with a difficult dilemma, we should carefully assess our options and spend a few moments consciously deliberating the information. Then, we should choose the best fit for our preferences...

The emotional system

It's only in the last few years that researchers have demonstrated that the emotional system might excel at complex decisions, or those involving lots of variables.

This would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we've long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be "smarter" than reasoned deliberation.

How emotional decision-making works

Thinking in a rational manner is more effective when there are limited pieces of information.  However, those focused on feelings prove far better in complex conditions

The advantages of emotional decision-making could be undone by a subsequent bout of deliberation, which suggests that we shouldn't doubt a particularly strong instinct, at least when considering lots of information.

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We’re Hardwired To Gossip

Our prehistoric ancestors lived in small intimate groups. To survive they needed to cooperate with in-group members while also competing for mates and limited resources.

It was fundame...

Social Isolation

Sharing secrets is one way people bond, so avoiding gossip may lead to social isolation. Someone skillful at gossip can be socially informed and have a good rapport with others. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t gossip may become an outsider, neither trusted nor accepted by the group. 

Gossip also helps to integrate newcomers into groups by exposing group norms and values.

Fear Of Whispers Keeps Us In Check

The awareness that others are likely talking about us can keep us in line. Among a group of friends or coworkers, the threat of becoming the target of gossip can deter “free-riders” and cheaters.

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The Zen View Of Morals

Evil cannot be destroyed, any more than good can, because they are polar opposites of the same thing. Destruction and creation, chaos and order; opposite aspects of reality, in tension with one ano...

The Zen View Of Life

For Zen practitioners, life is transitory and insubstantial. There is no security and thinking otherwise is a waste of time. 

They also don’t believe in an afterlife. Reincarnation can be more accurately thought of as a constant rebirth, of death throughout life, and the continual coming and going of universal energy before and after death.

The Zen View Of The World

The word 'Zen' means emptiness or void. This is the basis of Zen — that all that exists is based on a dynamic emptiness. Which is also what quantum science says.

In this view, there is no difference between matter and energy. Look at anything closely enough and you will see that it is an event, not a thing. Furthermore, there is not a ‘multiplicity of events’. There is just one event, with multiple aspects, unfolding. 

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