Putting others first: Cooperating is intuitive

We’ve learned from an early age to put others first, ”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But is the Golden Rule something that we carry with us? A study published last week in Nature Neuroscience suggests that we do. In fact, it tends to be our gut response.

Cooperation in the lab. In that study conducted by researchers at Harvard and Yale, participants gave more money to other group members in an economic game when they had less time to reflect on it, even if they didn’t think they would be treated the same. Furthermore, those who gave less money overall had fewer cooperative relationships in real life than their more cooperative counterparts. Altogether, these findings were the first to show that cooperation is more intuitive than selfishness, whether it has arisen innately or through cultural transmission.

Cooperation in teams. For coaches and managers, this is good news, but requires some artful planning. It may be somewhat counterproductive to preach about cooperation because this would appeal to team members’ reflective minds, potentially provoking more calculated, selfish behavior. Instead, it would likely be more effective to build a culture of cooperation based on examples set by leaders and upper staff members and traditions from previous teams.

“We Are Marshall!” Sports and the military use mottos to build cultures of cooperation, such as “Duty, Honor, Country”, “An army of one”, and “We Are Marshall!”

What are some of the best mottos or slogans in sports today?

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