Was Banfield right? New insights from a nationwide laboratory experiment
ABSTRACT: Abstract Since the pioneering study by Banfield, the North‐South gap in Italian social capital has been considered by international scholars as an example of how cultural diversity within a country can generate different developmental outcomes. Most studies, however, suffer from limited external validity and measurement error. This paper exploits a new and representative online lab‐experiment to assess social‐capital patterns in Italy. Unlike previous experiments, we do not inform participants about the geographic origins of their counterparts. This feature allows us to assess the North‐South gap in universal, as opposed to parochial, behavior. Results suggest that Southerners and Northerners do not systematically differ in generalized prosocial preferences. Only trustworthiness is higher among. Northerners, while they are statistically similar to Southerners in many other economic preferences such as cooperation, trust, expected trustworthiness, altruism, and risk tolerance. We also show that the gap in trustworthiness stems from the lower reciprocity of Southerners in response to large transfers, and it is characterized by the intergenerational transmission of norms. Possible policy implications are discussed.
Project description:Drawing on an idea proposed by Darwin, it has recently been hypothesized that violent intergroup conflict might have played a substantial role in the evolution of human cooperativeness and altruism. The central notion of this argument, dubbed 'parochial altruism', is that the two genetic or cultural traits, aggressiveness against the out-groups and cooperativeness towards the in-group, including self-sacrificial altruistic behaviour, might have coevolved in humans. This review assesses the explanatory power of current theories of 'parochial altruism'. After a brief synopsis of the existing literature, two pitfalls in the interpretation of the most widely used models are discussed: potential direct benefits and high relatedness between group members implicitly induced by assumptions about conflict structure and frequency. Then, a number of simplifying assumptions made in the construction of these models are pointed out which currently limit their explanatory power. Next, relevant empirical evidence from several disciplines which could guide future theoretical extensions is reviewed. Finally, selected alternative accounts of evolutionary links between intergroup conflict and intragroup cooperation are briefly discussed which could be integrated with parochial altruism in the future.
Project description:Research on parochial altruism demonstrated that hostility toward out-groups (parochialism) represents the dark side of the willingness to benefit one's in-group even at own costs (altruism). Parochial aggression thereby emerged mainly under conditions of threat. Extremist propaganda videos, for instance by right-wing extremists, try to capitalize on parochial altruistic mechanism by telling recipients sharing their national identity that this nation is under threat wherefore they for have to join the extremist's cause to prevent the extinction of their nation. Most of the time, propaganda videos are rated as uninteresting and non-persuasive by the target audience. Yet, evolutionary media psychology posits that the interest in and effectiveness of media increases when evolutionarily relevant problems are addressed. Consequently, interest in parochial altruistic right-wing extremist messages should increase under conditions of threat. The current study tested this assumption by randomly assigning German non-Muslims (N = 109) to either an existential threat (here: mortality salience) or a control condition and asking them to evaluate extremist propaganda that addressed them as either in-group members (right-wing extremists) or as out-group members (Islamic extremists). In support of the hypotheses, subjects under conditions of threat reported a higher interest in the right-wing extremist propaganda and perceived it as more persuasive. We discuss the results concerning the implications for evolutionary media psychology and the transmission of parochial altruism in propaganda videos.
Project description:To unravel the genetic mechanisms of disease and physiological traits, it requires comprehensive sequencing analysis of large sample size in Chinese populations. Here, we report the primary results of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Precision Medicine Initiative (CASPMI) project launched by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, including the de novo assembly of a northern Han reference genome (NH1.0) and whole genome analyses of 597 healthy people coming from most areas in China. Given the two existing reference genomes for Han Chinese (YH and HX1) were both from the south, we constructed NH1.0, a new reference genome from a northern individual, by combining the sequencing strategies of PacBio, 10× Genomics, and Bionano mapping. Using this integrated approach, we obtained an N50 scaffold size of 46.63?Mb for the NH1.0 genome and performed a comparative genome analysis of NH1.0 with YH and HX1. In order to generate a genomic variation map of Chinese populations, we performed the whole-genome sequencing of 597 participants and identified 24.85 million (M) single nucleotide variants (SNVs), 3.85?M small indels, and 106,382 structural variations. In the association analysis with collected phenotypes, we found that the T allele of rs1549293 in KAT8 significantly correlated with the waist circumference in northern Han males. Moreover, significant genetic diversity in MTHFR, TCN2, FADS1, and FADS2, which associate with circulating folate, vitamin B12, or lipid metabolism, was observed between northerners and southerners. Especially, for the homocysteine-increasing allele of rs1801133 (MTHFR 677T), we hypothesize that there exists a "comfort" zone for a high frequency of 677T between latitudes of 35-45 degree North. Taken together, our results provide a high-quality northern Han reference genome and novel population-specific data sets of genetic variants for use in the personalized and precision medicine.
Project description:Parochial altruism--a preference for altruistic behavior towards ingroup members and mistrust or hostility towards outgroup members--is a pervasive feature in human society and strongly shapes the enforcement of social norms. Since the uniqueness of human society critically depends on the enforcement of norms, the understanding of the neural circuitry of the impact of parochial altruism on social norm enforcement is key, but unexplored. To fill this gap, we measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects had the opportunity to punish ingroup members and outgroup members for violating social norms. Findings revealed that subjects' strong punishment of defecting outgroup members is associated with increased activity in a functionally connected network involved in sanction-related decisions (right orbitofrontal gyrus, right lateral prefrontal cortex, right dorsal caudatus). Moreover, the stronger the connectivity in this network, the more outgroup members are punished. In contrast, the much weaker punishment of ingroup members who committed the very same norm violation is associated with increased activity and connectivity in the mentalizing-network (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, bilateral temporo-parietal junction), as if subjects tried to understand or justify ingroup members' behavior. Finally, connectivity analyses between the two networks suggest that the mentalizing-network modulates punishment by affecting the activity in the right orbitofrontal gyrus and right lateral prefrontal cortex, notably in the same areas showing enhanced activity and connectivity whenever third-parties strongly punished defecting outgroup members.
Project description:The steroid hormone testosterone is widely associated with negative behavioral effects, such as aggression or dominance. However, recent studies applying economic exchange tasks revealed conflicting results. While some point to a prosocial effect of testosterone by increasing altruistic behavior, others report that testosterone promotes antisocial tendencies. Taking into account additional factors such as parochial altruism (i.e., ingroup favoritism and outgroup hostility) might help to explain this contradiction. First evidence for a link between testosterone and parochial altruism comes from recently reported data of male soccer fans playing the ultimatum game. In this study high levels of endogenous testosterone predicted increased altruistic punishment during outgroup interactions and at the same time heightened ingroup generosity. Here, we report findings of another experimental task, the prisoner's dilemma, applied in the same context to examine the role of testosterone on parochial tendencies in terms of cooperation. In this task, 50 male soccer fans were asked to decide whether or not they wanted to cooperate with partners marked as either fans of the subject's own favorite team (ingroup) or fans of other teams (outgroups). Our results show that high testosterone levels were associated with increased ingroup cooperation during intergroup competition. In addition, subjects displaying a high degree of parochialism during intergroup competition had significantly higher levels of testosterone than subjects who did not differentiate much between the different groups. In sum, the present data demonstrate that the behavioral effects of testosterone are not limited to aggressive and selfish tendencies but may imply prosocial aspects depending on the context. By this means, our results support the previously reported findings on testosterone-dependent intergroup bias and indicate that this social hormone might be an important factor driving parochial altruism.
Project description:The idea that cooperative groups out-compete less cooperative groups has been proposed as a theoretical possibility for the evolution of cooperation through cultural group selection. Previous studies have found an association between increased cooperation and exposure to inter-group violence, but most have not been able to identify the specific target of cooperation and are based on correlational data making it difficult to establish causality. In this study we test the hypothesis that inter-group conflict promotes parochial altruism (i.e., in-group altruism and out-group hostility) by using longitudinal data of a real-world measure of cooperation-charity and school donations-sampled before, during and after violent sectarian riots between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We find that conflict is associated with reductions in all types of cooperation, with reduced donations to a neutral charity, and both in-group and out-group primary schools. After the conflict, both in-group and out-group donations increased again. In this context we find no evidence that inter-group conflict promotes parochial altruism.
Project description:Trust and trustworthiness are essential to an efficient economy and play crucial roles in social life. Previous evidence from behavioral experiments has revealed that the trustworthiness of individuals is closely related with their altruistic preference. It has been demonstrated that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is associated with decisions involving trustworthiness. Moreover, vmPFC lesion patients showed less trustworthiness and altruism than control subjects, indicating the indispensable role of this specific brain area in human social interactions. However, the causal relationship between this neural area and trustworthiness, as well as altruism, has not been fully revealed. The potential neural basis behind the behavior of trustees' repayment has also seldom been discussed. In the present study, we aimed to provide evidence of a direct link between the neural and behavioral results through the application of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the vmPFC of our participants. We found that activating the vmPFC could promote both the trustworthiness and altruism of our participants. We also show that enhancing the excitability of the vmPFC using tDCS increased the trustworthiness of the participants, and this promoting effect might be attributable to the enhancement of individuals' altruistic preference. In addition, we revealed that the enhancing effect in trustworthiness and altruism might be specific to the activation of the vmPFC by applying tDCS over another brain region within the prefrontal cortex as a control site. Crucially, our findings provide direct evidence supporting the critical role of the vmPFC in cooperative behaviors in economic interactions, especially the trustees' repayment in the trust game and the dictators' altruistic transfer in the dictator game.
Project description:Parochial altruism, defined as increased ingroup favoritism and heightened outgroup hostility, is a widespread feature of human societies that affects altruistic cooperation and punishment behavior, particularly in intergroup conflicts. Humans tend to protect fellow group members and fight against outsiders, even at substantial costs for themselves. Testosterone modulates responses to competition and social threat, but its exact role in the context of parochial altruism remains controversial. Here, we investigated how testosterone influences altruistic punishment tendencies in the presence of an intergroup competition. Fifty male soccer fans played an ultimatum game (UG), in which they faced anonymous proposers that could either be a fan of the same soccer team (ingroup) or were fans of other teams (outgroups) that differed in the degree of social distance and enmity to the ingroup. The UG was played in two contexts with varying degrees of intergroup rivalry. Our data show that unfair offers were rejected more frequently than fair proposals and the frequency of altruistic punishment increased with increasing social distance to the outgroups. Adding an intergroup competition led to a further escalation of outgroup hostility and reduced punishment of unfair ingroup members. High testosterone levels were associated with a relatively increased ingroup favoritism and also a change towards enhanced outgroup hostility in the intergroup competition. High testosterone concentrations further predicted increased proposer generosity in interactions with the ingroup. Altogether, a significant relation between testosterone and parochial altruism could be demonstrated, but only in the presence of an intergroup competition. In human males, testosterone may promote group coherence in the face of external threat, even against the urge to selfishly maximize personal reward. In that way, our observation refutes the view that testosterone generally promotes antisocial behaviors and aggressive responses, but underlines its rather specific role in the fine-tuning of male social cognition.
Project description:Testosterone plays a key role in shaping human social behavior. Recent findings have linked testosterone to altruistic behavior in economic decision tasks depending on group membership and intergroup competition. The preferential treatment of ingroup members, while aggression and discrimination is directed towards outgroup members, has been referred to as parochial altruism. Here we investigated in two consecutive studies, whether testosterone is associated with parochial altruism depending on individual tendency for costly punishment. In the first study, 61 men performed a single-shot ultimatum game (UG) in a minimal group context, in which they interacted with members of an ingroup and outgroup. In the second study, 34 men performed a single-shot UG in a more realistic group context, in which they responded to the proposals of supporters of six political parties during the German election year 2017. Political parties varied in their social distance to the participants' favorite party as indicated by an individual ranking. Participants of study 2 also performed a cued recall task, in which they had to decide whether they had already encountered a face during the previous UG (old-new decision). In order to make the UG data of study 2 most comparable to the data of study 1, the rejection rates of several parties were combined according to the social distance ranking they achieved. Parties ranked 1 to 3 formed the relatively close and favored 'ingroup' that shared similar political values with the participant (e.g., left wing parties), while the 'outgroup' consisted of parties ranked from 4 to 6 with more distant or even antagonistic political views (e.g., conservative to right wing parties). In both studies, results showed a parochial pattern with higher rejection rates made in response to outgroup compared to ingroup offers. Interestingly, across studies higher salivary testosterone was associated with higher rejection rates related to unfair outgroup offers in comparison to the unfair offers made by ingroup members. The present findings suggest that latent intergroup biases during decision-making may be positively related to endogenous testosterone. Similar to previous evidence that already indicated a role of testosterone in shaping male parochial altruism in male soccer fans, these data underscore the general, yet rather subtle role of male testosterone also in other social settings.
Project description:Aggressive interactions between groups are frequent in human societies and can bear significant fitness costs and benefits (e.g. death or access to resources). During between-group competitive interactions, more cohesive groups (i.e. groups formed by individuals who cooperate in group defence) should out-perform less cohesive groups, other factors being equal (e.g. group size). The cost/benefit of between-group competition are thought to have driven correlated evolution of traits that favour between-group aggression and within-group cooperation (e.g. parochial altruism). Our aim was to analyse whether the proximate relationship between between-group competition and within-group cooperation is found in 3-10 years old children and the developmental trajectory of such a relationship. We used a large cohort of children (n?=?120) and tested whether simulated between-group competition increased within-group cooperation (i.e. how much of a resource children were giving to their group companions) in two experiments. We found greater within-group cooperation when groups of four children were competing with other groups then in the control condition (no between-group competition). Within-group cooperation increased with age. Our study suggests that parochial altruism and in-group/out-group biases emerge early during the course of human development.