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Cooperation and conflict: field experiments in Northern Ireland.

Silva AS, Mace R - Proc. Biol. Sci. (2014)

Bottom Line: However, the few empirical attempts to test this hypothesis do not use natural groups and conflate measures of in-group and unbiased cooperative behaviour.Conflict was associated with reduced donations to out-group schools and the return of out-group letters, but we found no evidence that it influences in-group cooperation.Rather, socio-economic status was the major determinant of cooperative behaviour.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, University College London, London WC1H 0BW, UK antonio.silva.09@ucl.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
The idea that cohesive groups, in which individuals help each other, have a competitive advantage over groups composed of selfish individuals has been widely suggested as an explanation for the evolution of cooperation in humans. Recent theoretical models propose the coevolution of parochial altruism and intergroup conflict, when in-group altruism and out-group hostility contribute to the group's success in these conflicts. However, the few empirical attempts to test this hypothesis do not use natural groups and conflate measures of in-group and unbiased cooperative behaviour. We conducted field experiments based on naturalistic measures of cooperation (school/charity donations and lost letters' returns) with two religious groups with an on-going history of conflict-Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Conflict was associated with reduced donations to out-group schools and the return of out-group letters, but we found no evidence that it influences in-group cooperation. Rather, socio-economic status was the major determinant of cooperative behaviour. Our study presents a challenge to dominant perspectives on the origins of human cooperation, and has implications for initiatives aiming to promote conflict resolution and social cohesion.

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Sample of 22 neighbourhoods in Belfast, UK where the surveys and lost letters experiment were conducted. See the electronic supplementary material, figure S2 for subsample of neighbourhoods where the donations experiment was conducted.
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RSPB20141435F1: Sample of 22 neighbourhoods in Belfast, UK where the surveys and lost letters experiment were conducted. See the electronic supplementary material, figure S2 for subsample of neighbourhoods where the donations experiment was conducted.

Mentions: First, we conducted a door-to-door survey of 940 individuals in 22 neighbourhoods (figure 1) in which people received £5 for their participation. The questionnaire included questions on individual socio-economic status (SES) and experiences of the conflict, specifically questions on whether the individual had been attacked or felt threatened by the other group. We created a sectarian threat index from a factor analysis of variables related to the individual exposure to sectarian attacks and threat, which we used as a measure of intergroup conflict (see the electronic supplementary material).Figure 1.


Cooperation and conflict: field experiments in Northern Ireland.

Silva AS, Mace R - Proc. Biol. Sci. (2014)

Sample of 22 neighbourhoods in Belfast, UK where the surveys and lost letters experiment were conducted. See the electronic supplementary material, figure S2 for subsample of neighbourhoods where the donations experiment was conducted.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4150329&req=5

RSPB20141435F1: Sample of 22 neighbourhoods in Belfast, UK where the surveys and lost letters experiment were conducted. See the electronic supplementary material, figure S2 for subsample of neighbourhoods where the donations experiment was conducted.
Mentions: First, we conducted a door-to-door survey of 940 individuals in 22 neighbourhoods (figure 1) in which people received £5 for their participation. The questionnaire included questions on individual socio-economic status (SES) and experiences of the conflict, specifically questions on whether the individual had been attacked or felt threatened by the other group. We created a sectarian threat index from a factor analysis of variables related to the individual exposure to sectarian attacks and threat, which we used as a measure of intergroup conflict (see the electronic supplementary material).Figure 1.

Bottom Line: However, the few empirical attempts to test this hypothesis do not use natural groups and conflate measures of in-group and unbiased cooperative behaviour.Conflict was associated with reduced donations to out-group schools and the return of out-group letters, but we found no evidence that it influences in-group cooperation.Rather, socio-economic status was the major determinant of cooperative behaviour.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, University College London, London WC1H 0BW, UK antonio.silva.09@ucl.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
The idea that cohesive groups, in which individuals help each other, have a competitive advantage over groups composed of selfish individuals has been widely suggested as an explanation for the evolution of cooperation in humans. Recent theoretical models propose the coevolution of parochial altruism and intergroup conflict, when in-group altruism and out-group hostility contribute to the group's success in these conflicts. However, the few empirical attempts to test this hypothesis do not use natural groups and conflate measures of in-group and unbiased cooperative behaviour. We conducted field experiments based on naturalistic measures of cooperation (school/charity donations and lost letters' returns) with two religious groups with an on-going history of conflict-Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Conflict was associated with reduced donations to out-group schools and the return of out-group letters, but we found no evidence that it influences in-group cooperation. Rather, socio-economic status was the major determinant of cooperative behaviour. Our study presents a challenge to dominant perspectives on the origins of human cooperation, and has implications for initiatives aiming to promote conflict resolution and social cohesion.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus