Humans are ‘naturally nice’

New research shows there is a biological basis for co-operative and empathetic behaviour.

 

“Darwin was much smarter than most of his followers,” said de Waal, quoting from Darwin’s The Descent of Man that animals that developed “well-marked social instincts would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience”.

 

De Waal showed the audience videos from laboratories revealing the dramatic emotional distress of a monkey denied a treat that another monkey received; and of a rat giving up chocolate in order to help another rat escape from a trap.

Such research shows that animals naturally have pro-social tendencies for “reciprocity, fairness, empathy and consolation,” said de Waal.

 

“Human morality is unthinkable without empathy.”

 

More about Frans de Waal at
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