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Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

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.

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Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

Selfishness Is Learned - Issue 37: Currents - Nautilus

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

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Key Ideas

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.

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 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.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Bruce Lee

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

Bruce Lee
Making mistakes

Mistakes are opportunities for learning and for creating something truly new.

And the trick for making good mistakes is not trying to hide them. Be honest with yourself and really know your own mistakes, so that you learn from them and that you'll never repeat them.

Reductio ad absurdum

It's a mode of argumentation or a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd conclusion. 

Take an assertion and see if you can inquire about any contradictions out of it. If you can, that proposition has to be discarded.

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The Prisoner's Dilemma
The Prisoner's Dilemma

It is a famous thought experiment in Game Theory. Two prisoners in separate interrogation rooms have two options: to confess or to lie, and this can lead to three outcomes:

  1. If both c...
The Millennials Dilemma

The Prisoners Dilemma can be reimagined as a life-optimization matrix. When two people have some free time due to a time-saving technique, they can spend it either on leisure or further work. This can have three outcomes:

  1. Both individuals choose to work harder in their free time, remaining in a constant state of acceleration
  2. Both individuals choose to relax and chill out.
  3. One of them works harder and gets ahead, while the other relaxes and is left behind in the acceleration.
The Burnout Generation

Millennials are fast becoming the burnout generation, due to them treating free time as not leisure time, when they can relax and unwind, but as bonus time for them to work harder and up their game.

The hyperproductive, work-obsessed world is hell-bent to automate every to-do list item so that you can work more and create more to-do lists.

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Uncertainty

Many people are uncertain about their behaviour and what action they should be taking at any given moment.

This uncertainty manifests in fear, stress, and anxiety.

Some Zen Ideas on...

The Big Picture

While dealing with the daily problems and decisions, we need to ask ourselves what do our lives require right now, and what matters the most to us. This reminds us to participate and take action in meaningful work, with a purpose, a mission and a direction. It stops us from acting on impulse or wasting our time during trivial things that don't have any impact.

Turn By Turn

You can only take one action at a time, due to time, energy and other constraints. Make sure the action you take is based on the big picture and has the most significant impact.

Don't waste your Turn.

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