- Only 12 years ago, the scientific consensus was that humans were "nasty" at the core, with a vaneer of morality.
- However, biological studies show human children and most higher animals cooperate with one another, overturning this view.
- But our natural tendencies are challenged in a globalized human world.
Human children are "moral" in a scientific sense, because they need to cooperate with each other.
Biological research increasingly debunks the view of humanity as competitive, aggressive and brutish, a leading specialist in primate behavior told a major science conference Monday.
"Humans have a lot of pro-social tendencies," Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
New research on higher animals from primates and elephants to mice shows there is a biological basis for behavior such as cooperation, said de Waal, author of "The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society."