Humans have evolved empathy, morality, and spirituality. We are committed to virtuous engagement and thrive in the company of others. But we can also be terribly inhumane to those outside of our groups, communities, and cultures. This problem of ingroup/outgroup difference has been explored by researchers in a variety of fields but remains largely unresolved. Alarmingly, we find ourselves in an increasingly tribalized world with deepening rifts forming between groups even within ostensibly unified cultures. These trends have been accelerating under the influence of new technologies and threaten to set back human progress.
We propose an intensely interdisciplinary effort combining researchers in psychology, evolutionary biology, and philosophy focused on identifying the developmental roots of inter-group comity and conflict, to develop a theoretical understanding of the cultural virtues that contribute to harmonious coexistence, and to produce empirical results supporting interventions aimed at engendering comity in a fractured age.
The program will involve senior leadership collaborating with junior researchers, cross cultural research across five continents, workshops to build collaborations between the three research teams and their collaborators, and publications to share findings with both the scientific community and the public.