Evolutionary psychology, economic freedom, trade and benevolence

Issue: 2/2019

Our thesis is that the reason many of us today are inclined toward socialism (explicit cooperation) and against laissez-faire capitalism (implicit cooperation) is because the first type of behavior was much more genetically beneficial during previous generations of our species. There is, however, a seemingly strong argument against this hypothesis: evidence from human prehistory indicates that trade (implicit cooperation) previously was widespread. How, then, can we be hard-wired in favor of socialism and against capitalism if our ancestors were engaged in market behavior in past millennia? Although trade which is self-centered and beneficial (presumably mutually beneficial to all parties in the exchange) did indeed appear hundreds of thousands of years ago, benevolence was established in our hard-wiring very substantially earlier, literally hun-dreds of millions of years ago, and is therefore far more deeply integrated into the hu-man psyche.

DOI: 10.2478/revecp-2019-0005
JEL: Z14, Z10, Z1
Keywords: selfishness, profit and loss, hard-wiring, evolutionary psychology, capitalism, Benevolence