Anthropologists say they have homed in on what they believe to be seven moral rules lying at the center of a survey of 60 different cultures from around the world.
So, pretty much everywhere, which makes them universal.
The anthropologists published a study about their findings. In a press release, Dr. Oliver Scott Curry, lead author and senior researcher at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, said, "People everywhere face a similar set of social problems, and use a similar set of moral rules to solve them. All agree that cooperating, promoting the common good, is the right thing to do."
The study put to the test the theory that morality evolves in order to promote cooperation; that this also explains why we feel a particular duty to our families; we also value solidarity, unity, and loyalty -- also known as mutualism. social exchange dictates that we return favors, trust others, forgive, and make amends. And conflict resolution lies at the heart of why we value traits such as generosity and bravery.
Interestingly, the researchers did not come up with any counter-examples, or instances in the 60 societies where these moral behaviors were considered bad. The morals were observed as occurring with the same regularity across continents, which means they don't belong to a purely Western code -- or one from any other region.
Professor Harvey Whitehouse noted that the study was based on historical descriptions of cultures from all over the globe, and that the data was gathered before and independent of the development of the ideas the study was meant to test.
More work will be done, he said, to arrive at a more granular level.