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Researchers Discover Altruism is Favoured By Chance

Why do we feel good about giving to charity when there is no direct benefit to ourselves, and feel bad about cheating the system? Mathematicians may have found an answer to the longstanding puzzle as to why we have evolved to cooperate. An international team of researchers, publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that altruism is favoured by random fluctuations in nature, offering an explanation to the mystery as to why this seemingly disadvantageous trait has evolved. The researchers, from the Universities of Bath, Manchester and Princeton (USA), developed a mathematical model to predict the path of evolution when altruistic “cooperators” live alongside “cheats” who use up resources but do not themselves contribute.

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