Winter 2014


Health & Biology

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Human Generosity

Psychologists find helping others a natural trait
Fall 2011

Generous behavior, like tipping a waiter, may be caused by a natural human instinct. (Photo: Sarah Gilbert)

Researchers associated with UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Professors Leda Cosmides and John Tooby and postdoctoral scholars Andrew Delton and Max Krasnow, have found that generosity may be based more on human nature than social pressure. Through computer simulations, they show that humans tend to help others, even if there is not a short-term personal gain, because natural selection favors treating the interaction as if it will happen again. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For more information, visit

Why Are People "Irrationally" Generous to Strangers? ( 7/26/11

Cooperation Trumps Payback in Evolution of Generosity (PsychCentral) 7/26/11

Kindness is in our genes: How desire to do good deeds is hard-wired into us by evolution (Daily Mail) 7/27/11

Tipping your waiter may be in your genes (CNN) 7/27/11

Is Generosity An Evolutionary Trait? (Fast Company) 7/27/11

UCSB Scholars Study the Evolution of Human Generosity (UCSB Office of Public Affairs) 7/25/11