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The Really Big Questions: Why Do We Share?

Are humans basically selfish, or basically giving? There’s a widespread assumption that you have to offer people incentives to do good deeds and threaten punishment to stop them from doing evil deeds. But the way people act in the real world contradicts that idea. Humans may actually have been shaped by evolution to care about each other, to share, and to cooperate.

In this program, we hear from a fascinating cast of characters:  Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton talks about his experiments showing that it makes people happier to give money away than to spend it on themselves; elders of the Maasai tribe in Kenya explain their system of sharing with tribe members in need, with no expectation of tit for tat; evolutionary biologist Athena Aktipis talks about cooperation among humans and among cancer cells; and primatologist Frans de Waal, who studies generosity and altruism in other primates, argues that humans are driven by biology, not culture, to be altruistic.

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