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Innate basic goodness

From Richard Davidson

Dr. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

1 month ago

We have a preference for cooperative warmhearted non-violent interactions compared to those that are selfish, aggressive and violent.

Some discussion starter questions
  • Innate goodness? What do you think?
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Video transcript

I do not believe that we are born that human beings are born with an innate propensity for violence. I believe we have the capability to be violent certainly. But I don't believe we have a preference to be violent. We have there's very good evidence to show that there is such a thing as innate basic goodness. We have a preference for cooperative warmhearted non-violent interactions compared to those that are selfish, aggressive and violent. There's no question that we come into the world with that kind of preference.
Now that doesn't mean that in certain environments violence can't be reinforced and conditioned. I think it can be and our modern society is filled with those unfortunate opportunities. But you know by and large people sign up for courses to learn how to become more peaceful to learn how to cultivate well-being and happiness. They don't sign up for courses to learn how to become more angry. And so I think it's really, when you think about it, it's very clear and you mentioned that it's easy to trigger violence. Well if we reflect on the sort of granular details of our everyday life there are far more experiences of gratitude and of positive interaction than there is of violence. Violence is atypical.

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