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Culture, not genetics, encourages people towards self-sacrifice among strangers.

Byline: ANI

Washington, Oct 13 (ANI): It is not the genes that make a person to go for blood donation or enrol for the army, for researchers have now attributed such self-sacrificing attitude to socially learned behaviour rather than an inherent trait.

Led by Adrian V. Bell, researchers from the University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States).  Davis used a mathematical equation, called the Price equation, which describes the conditions for altruism to evolve.

The equation motivated the researchers to compare the genetic and the cultural differentiation between neighbouring social groups.

The researchers used previously calculated estimates of genetic differences, and the World Values Survey It is an ongoing academic project by social scientists to assess the state of sociocultural, moral, religious and political values of different cultures around the world. Its results are largely available on the project's internet website.  (whose questions are likely to be heavily influenced by culture in a large number of countries) as a source of data to compute the cultural differentiation between the same neighbouring groups.

When compared, it was found that the role of culture had a much greater scope for explaining our pro-social behaviour than genetics.

In applying their results to ancestral populations, the World Values Survey was less useful.

But ancient cultural practices, such as exclusion from the marriage market, denial of the fruits of cooperative activities, banishment and execution happen now as they did then.

Such activities would have exerted strong selection against genes tending toward antisocial behaviour, and presumably pre·sum·a·ble  
adj.
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster.
 in favour of genes that predisposed individuals toward being pro-social rather than anti-social.

This would result in the gene-culture coevolution co·ev·o·lu·tion  
n.
The evolution of two or more interdependent species, each adapting to changes in the other. It occurs, for example, between predators and prey and between insects and the flowers that they pollinate.
 of human prosocial propensities.

The study has been published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, usually referred to as PNAS, is the official journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences. . (ANI)

Copyright 2009 Asian News International The Asian News International (ANI) agency provides multimedia news to China and 50 bureaus in India. It covers virtually all of South Asia since its foundation and presently claims, on its official website, to be the leading South Asia-wide news agency.  (ANI) - All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Oct 21, 2009
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