We are a groupish species. A recent articulation of this is The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony. my notes: jch.com/notes/PowerOfUs.html. The four principles of social identities include 2) we readily join teams and 3) when membership in a team is primed, active and salient in our minds, it shapes our perception and our goals.
Whether groupishness is genetic or not is well discussed here on the Edge: Group Selection and in Blueprint: Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society
One of my newest and still tenuous identities is being a part of The Assabet Village Food Cooperative, aka assabetmarket.coop. It is closer to opening. It is a cooperatively owned and managed corporation. Mutual Corporations are groupishness formalized. Two more salient mutual corporations that form part of my social identity are the Town of Sudbury, incorporated in 1639 and First Parish, which is a corporation that was split from the Town of Sudbury in 1836. The Town is mutually owned by governed by the citizens; First Parish by its members.
We evolved in tribes. Each member of the tribe is a recognized individual who brings a unique collection of skills and perspectives to serve the tribe as a whole. Our strength is in our diversity. The recently coined term, Complementary Cognition, is the notion that individual members of our species are specialized in complementary cognitive strategies and abilities and develop the dozens of specialized brain regions and networks to strengthen the most valuables skill we have. Our physical diversity is even more obvious. See also: Neurodiversity in 7.5 Lessons and Allostasis: Cerebral specialization
Humans have many social mechanisms that come alive when we come together in community. The "social synapse" (jch.com/notes/cozolinonhr.html) of gaze, pupil dilation, facial expressions, posture, proximity, and touch allow powerful nonverbal communication. We form mutual understandings. Teams in close proximity co-regulate breathing, heart beats, brainwaves and complete nervous systems.
Let me end with a great example of an experiment and "active and salient" social identities, from the Power of Us:
p. 183 "British football fans do not have the best reputation. but they are willing to help their own. Mark Levine and colleagues invited Manchester United fans to his psychological laboratory at the University of Lancaster. They arrived and completed a series of tasks designed to remind them of how much they loved Manchester United and being a fan of the team. Then they were asked to walk to another building to complete the study. On the way they encountered an emergency. A young man ran out across the path ahead of them, tripped, fell, and clutched his ankle, moaning in pain. Would they help this man in distress?"
YES! if they were wearing a Manchester United jersey (92%) else if Liverpool or plain shirt only 33% of the time. However, if the tasks reminded them of how much they loved the "beautiful game", then they were equally likely to help the Liverpool fan. Plain shirt was still out of luck. This illustrates the concept of "salient and active identity". The first group is primed by activating their Man U identities. The second group is primed to have their futball (soccer) fan identity be "salient and active".
It does not need to be a congregation, but, humans do better when they are part of a group of peers that is not work and more than family.