Shared cross-cultural principles underlie human prosocial behavior at the smallest scale
Rossi, G., Dingemanse, M., Floyd, S., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Kendrick, K. H., Zinken, J., & Enfield, N. J.
Shared cross-cultural principles underlie human prosocial behavior at the smallest scale. Scientific Reports, 13
: 6057. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-30580-5.
Prosociality and cooperation are key to what makes us human. But different cultural norms can shape our evolved capacities for interaction, leading to differences in social relations. How people share resources has been found to vary across cultures, particularly when stakes are high and when interactions are anonymous. Here we examine prosocial behavior among familiars (both kin and non-kin) in eight cultures on five continents, using video recordings of spontaneous requests for immediate, low-cost assistance (e.g., to pass a utensil). We find that, at the smallest scale of human interaction, prosocial behavior follows cross-culturally shared principles: requests for assistance are very frequent and mostly successful; and when people decline to give help, they normally give a reason. Although there are differences in the rates at which such requests are ignored, or require verbal acceptance, cultural variation is limited, pointing to a common foundation for everyday cooperation around the world.