top of page

The science behind us vs them

Dan Shapiro, Robert Sapolsky & more | 17:06


Is our brain evolved to take what is meaningless and make it meaningful? Everything you do right now is grounded in your assumptions. Not sometimes but all the time through yet kind of hardwired to figure out the intentions of other people, we turn the world into us as them's. And we don't like them very much and are often really awful to them. That's the challenge of our tribalistic world that we're in right.

When you look at some of the most appalling realms of our behavior, much of it has to do with the fact that social organisms are really, really hard wired to make a basic dichotomy about the social world, which is those organisms who count as offices and those who count as them's. And this is virtually universal among humans. 

And this is virtually universal among all sorts of social primates that have aspects of social structures built around separate social groupings. US isn't them's we turn the world into us as them's and we don't like them very much and are often really awful to them. And the US is we exaggerate how wonderful and how generous and how affiliative and how just like siblings, they are to us, we divide the world into us and them. 

And one of the greatest ways of seeing just biologically how real this fault line is, is there's this hormone oxytocin, oxytocin, is officially the coolest, grooviest hormone on earth.

Because what everybody knows is, it enhances mother infant bonding, and enhances pair bonding and couples. And it makes you more trusting and empathic and emotionally expressive and better at reading expressions more charitable. And it's obvious that if you just like spritz the oxytocin of everyone's noses on this planet, it would be the garden even the next day. 

Oxytocin promotes pro social behavior, until people look closely. And it turns out oxytocin does all those wondrous things, only for people who you think of as an us as an in group member, it improves in group favoritism in group parochialism.

Download Transcript

bottom of page