Scientists have allowed the age-old debate about the inner nature of man


25/11/2012

The fundamental question of human nature has long been a cause for heated debate. Augustinian doctrine of original sin is that all people are born selfish and unholy, but to save them can only divine intervention. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes also argued that people savagely self-centered, but he believed that salvation comes not through the divine, and through civil contract of the legal system. Other philosophers such as Rousseau argued that people are born uncorrupted, instinctively caring for the welfare of others. In our time, these issues are raised in these reality shows like "Survivor."

A new series of experiments provides comprehensive data for the analysis of human nature, not through philosophical or film production Kaleidoscope TV camera, but through the clear lens of science. These studies were conducted by a research team from different areas of science from Harvard and Yale universities who asked the question. What is our first instinct: to help yourself or others?

Decision-making (and behavior) is based on two mechanisms: intuition and meditation. Intuition is often not required cost effort, as come automatically and instantly. Meditation, on the contrary, requires effort to evaluate the possible consequences of potential courses of action, costs and profits. When we act in the interests of others - that overcomes me an intuitive self-interest by rational thinking, or we conquer our selfish thoughts with selfless intuitive impulses?

To answer this question, researchers have used a reliable indicator, which forms the "divide" between intuition and thinking: intuitive processes are fast, but it takes time for reflection. Instant solutions, whether they are selfish or selfless, and will be intuitive reaction that yavlyatsya indicator of our fundamental human nature.

A total of five studies, the total number of participants which totaled 834 people. They were asked to make a financial choice between his own benefit or the benefit of the people. The results are striking: in each of these studies, the faster the decision was made (up to 10 seconds), that is, with increasing component of intuition in decision making, the higher the level of cooperation, while the more sophisticated (slow) solutions associated with higher levels of self-interest. These results demonstrate that our first impulse is to cooperation and mutual assistance - and thus Augustine and Hobbes proven wrong. We are, in essence, "good."

Original: Scientificamerican.com


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