Are We More Selfish Then Animals?

Are you a Letter Inner or Not (Selfish)?

This question “Are We More Selfish Then Animals?” popped into my head while waiting frustrated and bewildered at the junction of my busy road. I counted the cars going past, the 22nd let me out! It took no more time for them but makes a massive difference to the poor sod waiting!

Givers, Takers, and Parasites.

We all experienced selfish behavior ranging from little to huge levels of selfishness, and even from those suppose to love us! We have all experience generosity, kindness, and unconditional acts of love. Are animals any better than us? Lets take a look;

Four main types of interactions between animals including Us; 

Altruistic – Animals that behave in ways that reduce their fitness but increase the fitness of other individuals in the population (sacrifice). Extreme examples of sacrifice are shown in protecting young. One example is matriphagy (the consumption of the mother by her offspring) in the spider Stegodyphus. We do not let our own children eat us BUT they can suck us dry, however we would die for them.

Commensalism – Relationship between two organisms where one is helped and the other is unaffected. Example the Anemone fishes (Nemo) or Clown fishes (Fig 1) – live amid the tentacles of the anemones which protects them from predators. Predators are poisoned by the nematocysts (stinging cells) of the anemones.

Fig 1. Clown Fish
Fig 1. Clown Fish (Who you calling Selfish?)

Parasitic – One organism, the parasite, lives off of another organism, the host, harming it and possibly causing death. The parasite lives on or in the body of the host. A few examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, barnacles, and humans. Parasitic people – those that expect everything and take without giving and hurt us along the way.

Mutualistic – Two organisms of different species “work together,” each benefiting from the relationship. One example is that of the Oxpecker (Fig 2) a bird that eats the parasites from, rhinoceros, zebra, and the antelope.  In a relationship Two people working equally towards a common goal.

Fig 2. Oxpecker
           Fig 2. Oxpecker

SO where does that leave us?

Are we fundamentally self-interested? Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete; that toddlers spontaneously help people in need.

Recent neuroscience studies have shown that when people behave altruistically, their brains activate in regions that signal pleasure and reward, similar to when they eat chocolate (or have sex). So does this mean we behave Altruistically because it makes us feel better therefore we are Selfish?

The evidence suggests we have deeply ingrained tendencies to act in either direction. Our challenge lies in finding ways to evoke the better angels of our nature. And that my friends comes down to CHOICE again.

When you see a poor fellow motorist waiting at a junction to come out- let them out, your feel good (like eating chocolate or having Sex) and your be a Altruist.