The Biological Balance of Cooperation and Competition


Cooperation Map

Cooperation Map (Photo credit: Ross Mayfield)

A scientific paper titled “A model balancing cooperation and competition” explores the possible reasons why right-handed people dominate the overall human population.[1] They found a correlation between competition and cooperation in biological relationships and the handedness of the population. Based on this they formed a mathematical model to see if they could predict the percentage of right and left handedness in sub groups or in other species. Human populations that disproportionately lean toward cooperation lean toward right handedness. Conversely, specific sub cultures such as athletes have a higher percentage of left-handed people than the overall population. The mathematical model the researchers formed accurately predicts the percentage of left-handers in a species or group based on the balance of cooperation and competition in the social relationships of group members.

The human population is approximately 90% right handed and 10% left handed. While competitive behaviors are necessary and valuable to be able to meet the challenges we face as a species, cooperation between us is essential for the type of world we now live in. It is also essential as part of the relationship model that makes up our internal biology. Organs must cooperate with each other and our immune system must compete for dominance over would be attackers of the system. In fact, 90% of DNA in the human body is non-human and mostly built on a cooperative relationship model.[2] Our biology is dependent predominately on cooperative rather than competitive relationships.

Competition and cooperation are both necessary elements of our biology and our relationship provided they exist in the correct measure. In human culture we run into problems when cooperation or competition is misapplied to situations that call for the other. Something to think about…


[1] Paper by Daniel M. Abrams and Mark J. Panaggio http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/04/24/rsif.2012.0211

[2] These cooperative relationships are sometimes called endosymbiotic (internal) and exosymbiotic (on the surface).

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4 responses to “The Biological Balance of Cooperation and Competition

  1. “..90% of DNA in the human body is non-human..” OMG, runs off in horror..

  2. Mother to father looking at child failing to match the right shapes… “that’s YOUR worm DNA that is!” lol : )

  3. http://iamforchange.wordpress.com/awards-page-and-nominations-thank-you-i-am-so-honored-and-grateful/ So many have shared so much with me and I wish to share as well please accept my nominations and if nothing else know I am grateful for your sharing on your pages with us all and the time you share with me on mine.Thank you!! 🙂 Joe

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