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Cooperation: Social Norms That Lead Us to Be Good to Others

15 January, 2016 - 09:23

Although competition is always a possibility, our concern for others leads most relationships among individuals and among groups to be more benign and favorable. Most people get along with others and generally work together in ways that promote liking, sharing, and cooperation. In these situations, the interacting parties perceive that the gains made by others also improve their own chances of gaining rewards and that their goals are compatible. The parties perceive the situation as integrative and desire to cooperate. The players on a football team, for instance, may cooperate with each other—the better any one of them does, the better the team as a whole does. And in cooperative situations, it may in some cases even be beneficial to accept some personal costs (such as passing the football to a teammate with a better shot at the goal, even though it means less glory for the self) in order to further the goals of the group.

Because cooperation is evolutionarily useful for human beings, social norms that help us cooperate have become part of human nature. These norms include principles of morality and social fairness.