Science explains evolution of kindness in humans

In an earlier post, we have written about the importance of kindness in human evolution. There is yet another theory about how kindness evolved as the better behavior than selfishness. Essentially, it says that powerful people use generosity and altruism to keep each other’s powers in check.

Researchers Omar Eldakar, Andrew Gallop and William Driscoll conducted the study in 2013 when all of them were postdoctoral researchers. They published it under the title “When Hawks Give Rise To Doves: The Evolution and Transition of Enforcement Strategies”.

The team constructed a mathematical simulation of a community. This virtual community consisted of both selfish and generous individuals. As this community grew in numbers, the competition for resources led to some interesting occurrences.

The selfish individuals who were competing for more power, and therefore more resources, kept each other in check. With their energies focused on dealing with each other, the poor and weak didn’t have to deal with aggressive resource-snatching.

On the other hand, by being generous to the have-nots, they can have more people on their side. As a result, the larger masses passively enjoy the fruits of their labor. At times, one powerful individual could keep all his competitors in check, leading to a practice of kings and community leaders.

The researchers concluded that generosity evolved in human society when selfish impulses grew enough to compete against each other. The exact words they used were, “a little hypocrisy may go a long way in the evolution and maintenance of altruism.” In fact, they believe that the model continues till date with Fortune 500 companies bettering each other in philanthropic activities.

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