Selfish behaviour ultimately leads to isolation …. Dynamic and complex social networks encourage their members to adopt a more friendly and cooperative attitude. Selfish behaviour can, on the other hand, cause an individual to be excluded from the group and literally be left to his or her fate.
That is the conclusion of a study carried out by scientists at Harvard University. The American researchers say that this is why friendly people ultimately achieve the best results. Research leader David Rand, Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, notes that people sometimes do horrific things, but usually adopt a very cooperative approach. “It’s actually incredible how millions of people can live together in overpopulated areas in cities around the world,” he says. “Trade, friendship and democracy require a particularly high level of cooperation. When everyone is cooperative, excellent collective results are achieved.” According to Rand, research showed that subjects rearranged their social networks in a way that achieved the best outcome for themselves and for the collective. “Individuals want to forge new connections with people who are generous, but also try to stop cooperating with people who show selfish behaviour. In this way, being friendly to one other creates a better environment. Those who behave badly ultimately end up being excluded. ” The researchers argue that such exclusion also triggered individuals to subsequently adopt a more cooperative attitude. “Exclusion is an internal discipline which ensures that the social network maintains a high level of co-operation,” explains David Rand. “A dynamic social network therefore has a high level of cooperation. On the other hand, an environment where no option for interaction partners is available is characterized by crumbling collaboration.” This short movie about an ant city illustrates what cooperation can lead to.