The kindredness of kindness

Since the social justice protests that fanned around the world three years ago, businesses, institutions, and public services have made strides to become more inclusive. More than a hundred colleges in the United States, for example, now offer programs or degrees in diversity studies.

The trend reflects earnest attempts to grapple with difference – to close gaps in opportunity and wages and to see and value the breadth of human experience. Against that background, the insights of a new study on communal sharing and “reciprocal altruism” are almost radical in their simplicity. The study found that kindness is so omnipresent in daily human affairs that it virtually erases the dividing lines of identity.

“When we zoom in on the micro level of social interaction, cultural difference mostly goes away, and our species’ tendency to give help when needed becomes universally visible,” the study’s lead author, Giovanni Rossi, a sociology professor from the University of California, Los Angeles, told Science Daily.