on being trusting

ihtg said about trust: “Unlike IQ/g, trust isn’t (IMO) an innate personal attribute encoded within one person’s brain. It’s a variable in a man’s interaction with his peers. Its existence depends on that interaction.”

well, yes … and no.

clearly trusting someone else happens during an interaction, yes. and the level of trust will be higher or lower depending on the circumstances in which that interaction happens — it’s prolly much easier to be trusting nowadays in peaceful, middle class minnesota than in war-torn congo.

but being trusting is also a personality trait — being more or less trusting is something innate — at least partly. and, like all the other personality quirks, it varies from individual to individual — and from population to population. from “Heritability of cooperative behavior in the trust game” in which the researchers studied twins taking part in the trust game [pgs: 3724-25, link opens pdf]:

“Our results thus suggest that humans are endowed with genetic variation that can partially account for differences in trust and trustworthiness when interacting with anonymous partners in the laboratory….

“Although we do find that genetic differences play a significant role for behavior in the classic trust game, the largest portion of the variance is explained by differences in unique environment. This is consistent with general results from the trust game that indicate behavior is more susceptible to state (unique mood, context) than trait. However, a result that may surprise some social scientists is that genetic differences appear to be a more important source of phenotypic variation than differences in common environment. This finding is in line with a broad consensus in the behavior genetics literature. Indeed, the second ‘law of behavior genetics’ proposed by Turkheimer is that the effect of being raised in the same family is generally smaller than the effect of genes.”

swedes appear to be more trusting than americans to me. unfortunately, “american” is such a catch-all description, it’s difficult to know what sort of ethnic groups we’re talking about here (note that the americans had more options of how much to share than the swedes did):

and the heritability of trust amongst swedes seems to lean a bit more towards a genetic explanation than amongst americans. (interesting that the shared environments of the twins seems to have amounted to diddly squat.):

people who are more agreeable — as in agreeableness in the big five personality traits — tend to be more trusting:

“People who score high on this dimension are empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. They also have an optimistic view of human nature. They tend to believe that most people are honest, decent, and trustworthy…. [I]n general, people who are concerned about others also tend to cooperate with them, help them out, and trust them.”

i’m not very agreeable (32nd percentile). i just know i’m gonna wind up a cranky, old cat-lady yelling at the kids to GET OFF MY LAWN! (~_^)

previously: trust and i’m abnormal

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civic societies ii

first of all, i’ve updated the original civic societies post — all the way from yesterday! — to include africa, latin america, and india, so you might want to check that out.

and now … drum roll, please! … the totals for all the countries in the survey (that’s the world values survey, 2005-08 wave) — including a GLOBAL TOTAL. (see the previous post for why anybody should care.) again, answering the question(s):

“Now I am going to read out a list of voluntary organizations; for each one, could you tell me whether you are a member, an active member, an inactive member or not a member of that type of organization?

– Church or religious organization
– Sport or recreation organization
– Art, music or educational organization
– Labour union
– Political party
– Environmental organization
– Professional association
– Charitable organization
– Any other voluntary organization”

and, again, these numbers represent people who responded ACTIVE MEMBER:

below are a whole bunch of charts illustrating these numbers. some interesting points:

– the middle east/maghreb and eastern europe are consistently at the bottom, swapping last place here and there — mostly the middle east/maghreb occupies the total losers position in the civic society rankings. arabs and eastern europeans seemingly just don’t give a f*ck.

– to my pleasant surprise, african nations always scored above the global total and very often near the top. whatever you wanna say about africans, they are civically engaged. good for them!

western europeans (either anglos or french/germanics) occupy the top spot almost half the time (4 out of 9); indians three times; africans twice.

– except for church/religious organization and charity/humanitarian organziation (two pretty good categories) latin americans always score below the global total.

east and southeast asians only scored above the global total on three questions: political party, environmental organization and professional organization.

anglos are waaay ahead of all the other groups in being active members of a charity/humanitarian organization.

africans are waaay ahead of everybody in being active members of a church or religious organization.

western europeans (including americans, canadians, australians, kiwis) luuuuuuuv sports.

ok. hold on. here are all the charts. click on any of them for a LARGER version (should open in a new browser tab/window):

i think there’s some funny numbers in this “other” category (see previous post, esp. the africa numbers), so take this chart with a grain of salt:

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four things

four things i’ve been meaning to mention about inbreeding and altruism (and other social behaviors). well, i’m sure there’s waaay more than just four things that could be said about the subject, but i’ve got four on my mind (it’s like spinning plates!), so here goes…

1) we’re talking here about the evolution of “genes for altruism” (and other social behaviors) — evolution by natural selection — and evolution takes some time — and depends on what selection pressures are/were involved;

2) given #1, and knowing how biology/natural selection works in general, then there must be different “genes for altruism” (and other social behaviors) — and different types of altruistic (and other social) behaviors — and, like other traits, their presence/frequency probably differs in different populations;

3) inbreeding can make the evolution of “genes for altrusim” (and other social behaviors) easier;

4) inclusive fitness means it pays off to be more altruistic (or more of those other social behaviors) to some individuals than others — i.e. those individuals who share more genes with you. individuals that are more inbred than others ought to show more altruistic (and other social) behaviors to their family members on average than non-inbred individuals since they share more genes with their family members. this should also apply to whole populations (especially considering #3) — however, #1.

points #1 and #3 are why i’ve been so interested in how long a population has been inbreeding or outbreeding. a population is not just going to become more or less altruistic overnight. we’re talking about the evolution of traits — not some magical inbreeding determinism — so there will be some lag-time.

for instance, if you somehow persuaded the entire population of saudi arabia to outbreed as much as possible in the next generation — really shuffle up the extended families there — you would not automatically wind up with a population behaving the way europeans do towards family members and strangers, because whatever “genes (alleles) for altruism” they possess would still be there in great numbers.

you would, however, have altered the conditions in which their altruism genes act, so you would think you would see some differences in behavior patterns. you should, i would think, see some changes in inclusive fitness-related behaviors (#4) since individuals would no longer be sooo related to their family members.

how long would it take to get rid of, or substantially change, whatever “genes for altruism” a population happens to have? i dunno. as you have prolly already figured out, i’m NOT an evolutionary theorist/population geneticist — and i don’t even play one on the innerwebs. (but i do want to be one when i grow up! (~_^) )

where it gets confusing (ok, ok — it’s ALL confusing) is when you realize that the social structure of a population — who is related to whom, and by how much — is not just a product of mating patterns, but is also part of the environment in which humans live and love and try to reproduce successfully.

so you have “genes for altruism” being selected for, or against, due to the conditions in whatever environment in which they’re operating (assuming that they matter at all for the fitness of individuals, which they prolly do) — but, meanwhile, these “genes for altruism” are also partly creating that very environment. talk about a feedback loop!

in other words … it’s complicated.

previously: which altruism genes? and setting the stage? and and so my next question naturally is…

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trust

from the world values survey, 2004-2008 — Could you tell me for each whether you trust people from this group completely, somewhat, not very much or not at all? (i’ve only included the trust completely and somewhat numbers, which i added together.)

People you know personally:

People you meet for the first time:

People of another religion:

the most trusting peoples in the world (surveyed)? = the usual suspects. germanics, anglos, finnish, french. swedes most naive.

the least trusting peoples in the world (surveyed)? = chinese, romanians, peruvians (what’s up with the peruvians?).

italians = not so trusting.

update 11/23: the slitty eye wonders who the chinese respondents who don’t trust people of other religions are. me, too!

the total numbers don’t match, unfortunately, i’m guessing because the same data are not available for each respondent (that’s annoying), but if i include the cross-variable for “respondent’s religion,” we see that overall muslims in china seem to be the most trusting! that is if you add together “trust completely” and “trust a little.” more buddhists “trust completely” than any of the other groups. (i think we can ignore the handful of “orthodox” and “others” — well, all of these numbers are pretty small, so no doubt not significant in any way, shape, or form.):

here’s some info on where the world values surveys were conducted — again, the numbers don’t match. *sigh* according to these numbers, something like 23% of the interviews took place in xinjiang and ningxia, so it seems like we’re talking about a lot of non-han chinese in these surveys:

_____
Selected countries/samples: Andorra [2005], Argentina [2006], Australia [2005], Brazil [2006], Bulgaria [2006], Burkina Faso [2007], Canada [2006], Colombia [2005], Cyprus [2006], Chile [2006], China [2007], Egypt [2008], Ethiopía [2007], Finland [2005], France [2006], Georgia [2008], Germany [2006], Ghana [2007], Great Britain [2006], Guatemala [2004], Hong Kong, China [2005], India [2006], Indonesia [2006], Irak [2006], Iran [2005], Italy [2005], Japan [2005], Jordan [2007], Malaysia [2006], Mali [2007], Mexico [2005], Moldova [2006], Morocco [2007], Netherlands [2006], New Zealand [2004], Norway [2007], Peru [2006], Poland [2005], Romania [2005], Russian Federation [2006], Rwanda [2007], Serbia [2006], Slovenia [2005], South Africa [2007], South Korea [2005], Spain [2007], Sweden [2006], Switzerland [2007], Taiwan [2006], Thailand [2007], Trinidad and Tobago [2006], Turkey [2007], Ukraine [2006], United States [2006], Uruguay [2006], Viet Nam [2006], Zambia [2007]

previously: trust me on this

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on feeling local

in the article about italy that i quoted in one of yesterday’s posts, the author said:

“When you ask citizens of, for example, Pisa how they identify themselves, they are likely to answer first as Pisans, then as Tuscans, and only after as Italians or Europeans.”

from the world values survey, 1999 — in response to the question: To which of these geographical groups would you say you belong first of all? And the next? And which do you belong to least of all? (click on images for LARGER view):

more than half (53.4%) of italians said they identified most (first) with their local community compared to 38.4% of greeks and 31.9% of americans. only 23.3% of italians identified first with the nation, whereas 35.3% of greeks and 34.9% of americans did. i’m surprised that so many greeks identified first with their nation, but then they are less inbred than italians. why so few americans should identify first with their country, i don’t know. many recent immigrants? too outbred? a combination of both? dunno.

a full 19.5% of americans said they identified first with “The World.” somehow i don’t think that those sentiments are generally reciprocated. maybe from some northern europeans? dunno — will have to check that out.

1999 starts to be a bit old for sentiment data; unfortunately, this (exact) question was not asked on the most recent world values survey (2005), and the respondents from 1999 are practically a whole generation ago now (how time flies!).

here’s the same data from 1999 for each of the three countries by age of respondent. first, greece:

then, italy:

finally, the u.s.:

older greeks (over 50) identified more strongly with their locality than younger greeks, and there was a general downward trend from the eldest to youngest greeks. there’s a u-shaped pattern amongst the italians: like the greeks, italians over 50 were most likely to identify with their locality, but unlike the greeks they were waaay more likely to do so. the subsequent italian generations, like the greeks, were less likely to identify first with their locality, although they did so more than the greeks. but there was an upswing in local identity amongst italians aged 15-29. americans showed an inverse u-shaped pattern in local identity, with 30- and 40-somethings most likely to identify locally than other americans. altogether, americans were much less likely to identify first locally.

again, older greeks had the strongest national sentiments compared to younger greeks, and there was a downward trend over the generations. on the whole, greeks were much more likely to identify first as greeks than italians as italians. and their nationalistic sentiments were pretty comparable to those of americans — a surprise to me! italian feelings of being italian first have increased over the generations, but only slightly, and their percentages are quite a bit below those of greece and the u.s. like the greeks, older americans were more likely to feel american first, and there’s been a downward trend.

younger people (ages 15-29) in both greece and the u.s. were more likely to identify first as citizens of the world — something like 19% in greece and 25% in the u.s. younger italians, too, felt more like global citizens than their elders, but only at a rate of about 10%. in all three cases, as the feelings of being global citizens increased, the feeling of being connected to a locality or nation decreased — or vice versa.

(note: comments do not require an email. 1999!)

more nepotism in southern than in northern italy…

…in ACADEMIA! heh.

in all likelihood, anyway:

“Measuring Nepotism through Shared Last Names: The Case of Italian Academia”

“In Italy, nepotism is perceived as a cancer that has metastasized, invading many segments of society, including academia. The figure of the ‘barone’ (baron), the all-powerful senior professor who can, with a stroke of the pen, make or destroy careers, has permeated popular culture and is frequently represented in novels and movies. Nepotistic practices are especially damaging in a situation in which there are very few new positions (e.g. in Italy, for several years, all academic hires were put on hold). Despite legislative efforts aimed at eradicating nepotism, the general perception is that the practice is alive and well. The more blatant cases have gained the attention of the public, but the magnitude of the problem is unknown, as all the evidence is anecdotal….

“Recently, Durante et al. performed the first large-scale survey of co-occurrence of last names among Italian academics, and compared it with detailed geographical data on last name frequency. Their analysis showed that the degree of homonymity in academia is much higher than expected at random, especially in some disciplines and institutions. Moreover, they showed that a high degree of homonymity negatively correlates with several indices of academic performance. Although sharing last names does not necessarily imply family affiliation, it can be used as a proxy for nepotistic relations. If anything, the number of cases is going to be largely underestimated, as in Italy women maintain their maiden names, and children take their father’s last name. Thus, using last names one can detect nepotism associated with father-child and inter-sibling relations, but not mother-child cases and those involving spouses. Considering that in the sporadic documented cases the majority of hires involves spouses, and that women constitute about a third of the professors, one can conclude that such an analysis can detect roughly half of the cases of nepotism within the immediate family, not to mention lovers, domestic partners, pupils and more distant relatives….”

oops!

previously: inbreeding in italy and all i want for christmas

see also: chalk and cheese @those who can see.

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mamma mia!

“The End of Italy”

“Why should we be surprised Italy is falling apart? With dozens of languages and a hastily made union, it was barely a real country to begin with….

“It took four centuries for the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England to finally become one in the 10th, yet nearly all the territories of the seven states that made up 19th-century Italy were molded together in less than two years, between the summer of 1859 and the spring of 1861. The pope was stripped of most of his dominions, the Bourbon dynasty was exiled from Naples, the dukes of central Italy lost their thrones, and the kings of Piedmont became monarchs of Italy. At the time, the speed of Italian unification was regarded as a kind of miracle, a magnificent example of a patriotic people uniting and rising up to eject foreign oppressors and home-bred tyrants.

“However, the patriotic movement that achieved Italian unification was numerically small — consisting largely of young middle-class men from the north — and would have had no chance of success without foreign help. A French army expelled the Austrians from Lombardy in 1859; a Prussian victory enabled the new Italian state to acquire Venice in 1866.

“In the rest of Italy, the Risorgimento (or Resurgence) wars were not so much struggles of unity and liberation as a succession of civil wars. Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had made his name as a soldier in South America, fought heroically with his red-shirted volunteers in Sicily and Naples in 1860, but their campaigns were in essence a conquest by northern Italians of southern Italians, followed by the imposition of northern laws on the southern state known as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Yet the southern city of Naples did not feel liberated — only 80 citizens of Italy’s largest city volunteered to fight for Garibaldi — and its people soon became embittered that the city had exchanged its role as the 600-year-old capital of an independent kingdom for the status of a provincial center. Today, its status remains reduced, and southern GDP is barely half what it is in the regions of the north….

“When you ask citizens of, for example, Pisa how they identify themselves, they are likely to answer first as Pisans, then as Tuscans, and only after as Italians or Europeans. As many Italians cheerfully admit, their sense of belonging to the same nation becomes apparent only during the World Cup, when the Azzurri, the members of the national soccer team, are playing well….”

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inclusive inclusive fitness

inclusive fitness means you can increase your own (genes’) fitness by somehow being altruistic to other individuals out there who share your genes, family members being the most obvious choice (’cause they typically share a lot of your genes — especially if you’re a bee). an altruistic behavior is defined in biology as some action which helps out another individual(s) while costing the altruistic individual a chance at reproducing or even surviving.

let’s take my example from my last post on altruism: the suicide bomber. the suicide bomber makes the ultimate sacrifice — 100% of his genes on behalf of, presumably, some or all of his extended family members. here he is — mr. light-blue square. by blowing himself up — and possibly taking some of his family’s enemies’ genes with him — he forfeits all of his genes, outlined in red, that are found in his own genome:

but, there are other copies of his genes in other people — that’s kinda the whole point.

now, remember mr. light blue and miss light pink from this post? well, here they are again. they’re first-cousins so (barring any other inbreeding) they prolly share 1/8th of their genes in common, thus they overlap:

and here, they’ve mated and had a daughter, miss deep-pink, who has inherited half of her father’s chromosomes and half of her mother’s, but she’s gotten some duplicate copies of genes (alleles) because her parents shared genes (alleles) in common (i.e. where they overlapped). (like her brother, mr. deep-blue, she’s “less of an individual” than an outbred person.):

i’ve purposefully picked first-cousin marriage here because i want to take a look at another example of altruism from the muslim world — honor killing (i know — honor killings are not restricted to muslim societies).

what happens genetically when a parent — or often parents — kills one of his kids?

well, in the suicide bombing example above, the individual sacrificed 100% of his genes for his family. in the case of honor killing, he sacrifices half of his genes for his family plus the extra copies of his genes/alleles that his daughter carries due to the inbreeding — according to my calculations, that means he’s sacrificing (prolly) 56.84% of his genes (in an fbd marriage scenario, which is a typical cousin-marriage pattern found in the muslim world). (all of this can be flipped around to view it from the mother’s p.o.v., obviously.) here again, outlined in red, are the genes that he altruistically sacrifices.:

it doesn’t really matter if he sacrifices his genes within his own genome or his genes within his daughter’s genomeeither way, he’s still sacrificing some of his own genes for a greater number of his own genes found in other individuals.

and 56.84% vs. 100%? — honor killing is clearly an altruistic bargain compared to suicide bombing. =/

also, in the honor killing situation, dad’s still around to live another day and possibly even reproduce some more. still, it is something to sacrifice the young who probably have before them more opportunities to reproduce than dear old dad. they are the future, obviously. (i’ve read somewhere that honor killings often or typically take place when whatever the scandal is becomes publically known — otherwise, of course, a family will try to cover things up. why sacrifice a family member if you don’t have to? unfortunately, can’t find the reference where i read that. pretty sure it was daniel pipes.)

but who is benefitting from this altruistic killing? well, westerners often belittle the claims that muslims and other peoples make when they say that they’re saving their familiy’s honor in murdering a daughter (or two or three) — but if your other children are unable to marry** because of one child’s bad behavior, then obviously honor killing becomes an altruistic act, since in total you will benefit a greater number of your genes by sacrificing some of them. that’s the biological definition of altruism.

honor killings are really an example of inclusive inclusive fitness since the altruistic individual’s genes that are sacrificed on behalf of copies of his genes in other individuals are other copies of his genes in other individuals. (got that?)

the long history of inbreeding in middle eastern/north african/south asian muslim societies is important here, too, ’cause remember — inbreeding means that the evolution of altruism in a population is made easier. whatever genes that influence the willingness, for ultimately altruistic reasons, to kill an offspring, a pretty extreme step — genes that make individuals within these societies, on average, more willing to do it than otherwise — seem to have arisen and flourished in these populations, undoubtedly because of their particular evolutionary history.

no, of course i’m not condoning honor killings — or any other kind of killing for that matter (self-defense is ok). i’m only trying to explain them. by understanding where the drive for them comes from, maybe people can put an end to them (if they want to).

**remember how in “Pride and Prejudice,” miss elizabeth bennett fretted that that she and her other sisters would have difficulties marrying because of the disgrace lydia brought on the family…?

previously: which altruism genes?

(note: comments do not require an email. can’t think of anything funny to say about honor killings. =/ )