Sunday, December 24, 2006

Science of Christmas

Why is it at this time of year, everyone breaks into "give 'til it hurts mode"?

In this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2006/12/20/ecnxmas20.xml an idea of "upstream reciprocity" is explained.

Here's a taste:

"Our analysis shows that gratitude and other positive emotions, which increase the willingness to help others, can evolve in the competitive world of natural selection." Scrooge himself would have been impressed by their arguments which show how, even in a nature that is supposed to be red in tooth and claw, a person who has just received help may go on to help several others in "an 'epidemiology of altruism' resulting in an explosive increase of altruistic acts."

I'm not sure this explains goodwill during the holidays specifically, but I found it hilarious that scientists are even trying to explain this. Gotta love these guys!

Happy paying it forward day!

3 comments:

Christian said...

Hmmm, I wonder how one goes about getting grant money to study this kind of thing...?

Shannon said...

I've often wondered that about a lot of studies I read. According to an article on the front page of Yahoo this morning, you have to ask in front of people:

"People value money and resources, but they also value having a good reputation and are willing to invest in maintaining one," said Willer."

Competitive altruism. We are so complicated.

Christian said...

In that case, I want $10K to study the societal effects of stupid nicknames people give each other. Anyone? Anyone? :~)