心理学 lecturer 丹尼尔·法拉利 investigates the psychological processes involved in gift giving 和 如何 it benefits us from an evolutionary perspective.

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It’s that time of year when people start getting excited by the prospects of hunting through the shops on the high street, 或者通过无尽的网站, 为所爱的人寻找完美的礼物. 好吧, some get excited, others amongst us hate it 和 dread this prospect every Christmas time. 这就引出了一个问题,新黄金城集团为什么要这么做?

查尔斯·达尔文的黑白照片

To underst和 this annual ritual, it’s first important to underst和 more about us as a species. 人类是一个非常社会化的物种, 和 our success in living 和 working with each other has been shaped by millions of years of evolution. 作为一个结果, humans benefit far more by cooperating with one another than by only caring about themselves.

这是查尔斯·达尔文努力解释的事情, as his theory of natural selection suggests that we should only be interested in our own survival (which is why people believe sayings like “survival of the fittest”).

So what has the fact we are a very social 和 cooperative species have to do with giving presents at Christmas? 这都是因为 如何 新黄金城集团相处得很好. In the 1970s a scientist called Robert Trivers came up with the theory of reciprocal altruism, which can explain 如何 individuals can be more successful helping each other rather than just themselves.

Trivers states that we often incur the cost of helping another individual, because we know that that individual will return the favour to us at a later date when we really need it. 作为一个结果, both individuals in the long run will be more successful.

取, 例如, Person A gets a text from Person B to say that their car has broken down 和 they can’t get into college for an important exam. A绕了一小段路, 这只是一个小成本, 去接B,送她去大学, 这对他们来说是一个巨大的好处. 现在快进六个月, 和 now Person A’s car has broken down on the morning of a job interview. 现在 she texts Person B, who picks her up 和 takes her to her interview. 现在, both Person A 和 Person B are much better off in the long run to have been in this reciprocal arrangement (i.e. both incurred only minor costs but gratefully received huge benefits) than if they had both not been helpful.

人类在明亮天空下的进化

It is this principle of reciprocal altruism (‘you scratch my back 和 I’ll scratch yours’) that explains lots of the positive relationships we have with friends 和 others.

Alturism is also something that we continually engage with as part of these relationships, 和 one small part of that is the giving 和 receiving of gifts at special occasions like Christmas – it reinforces the reciprocal relationship between individuals that will hopefully continue for the next year, 及以后.

新黄金城集团送礼物的不只是朋友, 事实上,新黄金城集团礼物的主要接受者是新黄金城集团的家人. 再一次, the origins of our motivation to be nice to our family members is to be found in our evolutionary history. 和地球上所有其他物种一样, humans are especially helpful to family members as we share a number of genes with them. This means that if we help them then they are more likely to survive 和 eventually pass on these genes that we share with them. 换句话说, we are looking after our own genetic interests by helping relatives, 和 this is the basis of what William Hamilton called kin selection. 

圣诞老人手捧一堆包装好的礼物的特写

在此基础上, Hamilton came up with a rule which s如何s that the more closely related we are to another kin member, 新黄金城集团就越有可能帮助他们, 随着新黄金城集团与近亲(e.g. 兄弟姐妹)比新黄金城集团与更多的远亲(e.g. 堂兄弟). This very same principle can be applied to giving gifts at Christmas, 和 you can see that most often the biggest 和 best presents you receive are from your relatives, 还有你的近亲. So, 回想一下你年轻的时候, 你们可能还记得最大的, 最昂贵的礼物来自你的父母和祖父母, 而不是你的二表哥珍妮特.

好吧, 实际上我同意, the real motivation behind gift-giving is the positivity it creates in us 和 others, 记住这一点很重要. 然而, it’s important to realise that it is precisely these psychological feelings we have when we share gifts with loved ones that are the result of millions of years of our evolution. 换句话说, 新黄金城集团送礼物是因为它让新黄金城集团感觉很好, 但它也让新黄金城集团在进化上更成功.

All views expressed in this blog are the Academic’s own 和 do not represent the views, policies or opinions of the 新黄金城集团 or any of its partners.

丹尼尔·法拉利 是高级讲师吗 心理学学士学位(荣誉) at the 新黄金城集团 which offers Evolution 和 Human Behaviour as a module option for second year students.

观看丹尼尔新黄金城集团这个话题的演讲