Why humans (and other primates) lend a helping hand

Kate Shaw

Human society is rife with examples of individuals helping each other, but they can be a confusing and contentious subject for evolutionary biologists. We often help others at our own expense, whether it’s a matter of holding a door for someone or rescuing them from an oncoming train. Where does this behavior come from, and why do we do it? A special issue of PNAS, dedicated to evolution and social behavior, reviews the latest research on cooperation and suggests that humans may differ from other animals in how and why we help others.

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