An investigation by the University of Leiden, in which 8,354 people from 31 developed countries participated, has found that social awareness differs greatly from one country to another, that Japan leads the ranking and that Spain is in ninth place, even ahead of Germany.
The Latin American countries that appear on the list are Mexico, which is in third place, followed by Chile, which is in position 17, and Argentina, which is located in position number 22. A higher social conscience it is associated with better general objectives of environmental protection and cooperation, among other values.
The researchers selected industrialized countries because a similar stage in the economic development process makes a better comparison possible. Despite this, the results showed notable differences between individuals and countries. To establish the level of each nation, the average score of the participants from that country was calculated.
Understand the other
As the researchers explained in a Press release, the focus of the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was not the social help that implies transfer of economic resources or investment of time and work to improve the conditions of disadvantaged groups in society, but rather the social conscience that each person manages to develop in order to understand the needs of others.
If, on the one hand, there is an individual awareness of the world and the cosmos or “mindfulness”, at the same time people develop a social awareness to a greater or lesser extent: thanks to it they can grasp the needs of others, attend them, respect them and empathize. Apparently, this condition varies remarkably according to different regions and countries.
For specialists, social conscience under this concept generally implies small acts of attention or kindness. Although it is quite common considering that the human being is a social animal, this kind of cooperation between people and groups has received little empirical attention. However, its promotion can generate more profound and lasting changes than social assistance of an economic nature, usually sporadic and inconstant.
The prosocial choice or the individualistic path
The idea of social awareness used by the researchers can be easily understood if we briefly describe one of the exercises that the more than 8 thousand people who participated in the research had to carry out. On a screen, they were presented with the choice between three apples: two were green and one was red.
Knowing that the next participant would not have the possibility to select the red apple, many volunteers chose one of the two green apples, in a clearing prosocial behavior. Others, however, privileged their personal wishes and chose the red one, without taking into account the next participant.
In this simple example you can see how some people have a greater regard for the needs of others, and are willing to put aside some of their priorities to give the other the freedom to choose. However, the scientists noted that this social ranking of nations it does not determine the “quality” of a country or its standard of living.
Despite this, the researchers found significant relationships between the list prepared and the performance of each country in terms of social awareness with aspects such as environmental Protection, sustainable development initiatives or the achievement of global climate goals.
Social mindfulness and prosociality vary across the globe. Niels J. Doesum et al. PNAS 2021).DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023846118
Cover photo: Tim Marshall and Unsplash.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.