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Our Human Thirst for Fairness

collaboration kindness Jul 16, 2011

At our base level, we are kind creatures.

An article caught my eye today. “Thirst for fairness may have helped us survive” by Natalie Angier in the Australian Financial Review, July 9-10, 2011. Natalie suggests that “our rise to global dominance began, paradoxically, when we set rigid hierarchies aside.”

This looked very, very interesting. I have always held the view that people are kind at heart, and from this article it seems that this goes back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Natalie tells of our “long nomadic prehistory as tightly-knit bands living by veldt-ready team-building rules: the belief in fairness and reciprocity, a capacity for empathy and impulse control, and a willingness to work co-operatively in ways that even our smartest primate kin cannot match.”

This low-hierarchy group behaviour is also seen in current hunter-gatherer populations, and in our own children when they are ordering their own play. I suppose this is why we have an inherent distrust of rigid hierarchies. The need for input to the fairness of the group is hard-wired into our genes.

And amazingly, this is the basis of the kindness that underpins my whole life!


[Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash.]

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