Drive the streets of Manhattan, dodging careening cabs, jaywalking pedestrians, bike riders plowing through red lights, trucks double and triple parked along the curb and it might seem hard to believe that human beings are altruistic and cooperative by nature. But according to a recent article in the New York Times by Sindyan N. Bhanoo,http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/science/planet-of-the-apes-no-humans-have-the-cooperative-edge.html?ref=science this is the case.
It was a study of pre-school children versus young chimps and monkeys who were presented with puzzles which required cooperative efforts and shared rewards for achievements. Young humans did it, monkeys and chimps did not.
They relate this tendency to cooperate among our own with the concept of teaching. We share our culture, our knowledge with others and this leads to a cumulative fund of knowledge and expertise. That is why each generations of human beings do not have to re-invent the wheel.
Of course human consciousness has at its disposal language both oral and written. This allows us to teach each other when no one else is around. But these studies reveal that at our core, as young children, we innately help each other to learn.
So despite our general impression of our kind as aggressive, bellicose, xenophobic, genocidal, obnoxious and competitive, there may just be a good side to us after all.
We can only hope so. In any case it wouldn't hurt to remind ourselves that we aren't all bad all the time. Just watch the kids.