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The Evolutionary Cognitive Foundation for Altruism

Project Leader
Ryo Oda, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya Institute of Technology

Collaborative Project Researcher
Yuki Niwa, Graduate Student, Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya Institute of Technology

Faculty Staff Responsible for the Project
Kai Hiraishi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University Assistant Professor

Altruism is a remarkable function of kokoro which forms bonding among people not related by kinship. At times, humans bravely step forward to aid or save others--but what is the proximate mechanisms that support such high level altruism among human beings? Our past year's research found that, while pictures of eyes significantly affect altruism in experimental conditions, mirrors did not (but perhaps increasing mirrors size would increase effects).. In another study, it was observed that while it was easy to remember the faces of non-altruistic individuals, the memory for the faces of altruistic persons was not strong. It should be noted, however, that we indirectly assessed the memory for faces by observing changes in reactions to non-altruists and to altruists. In other words, we did not directly assessed the memory for faces. This year we shall further study these themes in order to clarify the characteristics of altruism as human nature, and ultimately to create environments that will elicit and enhance human altruism .