Are we only nice to each other when we believe we’re being watched and could be punished, whether by CCTV cameras, or an omniscient angry god? Or are there other forces that encourage co-operation? Questions Bridget Kendall asks social psychologist Ara Norenzayan. She also talks to Gandhi biographer Ramachandra Guha and poet Elaine Feinstein about the power of non co-operation, as an individual or a group.

Photo: Two men moving a piano, Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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44 minutes

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Mon 2 Dec 2013 03:06 GMT

Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha

Ramachandra Guha is an award-winning author and columnist based in Bangalore. His latest book is Gandhi Before India, a chronicle of the Indian leader’s early life and career, which was mostly spent as a lawyer-activist in South Africa. Photo credit: P. Ananth

Elaine Feinstein

Elaine Feinstein

Elaine Feinstein is a prize-winning poet, novelist, playwright, biographer and translator. Her latest book is a memoir called It Goes with the Territory.

Ara Norenzayan

Ara Norenzayan

Ara Norenzayan is a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  In Big Gods, he argues that how the invention of powerful and omniscient moralizing deities has transformed the world.


60 second Idea to Change the World: Stop Bullying with Books

In this week’s 60 Second Idea to Change the World, poet Elaine Feinstein suggests a creative way to tackle bullying.  She would like every bully to be enrolled on a literature course that opens up their minds to the pain and suffering caused by their actions.  Literature after all is the mother of empathy, and that is arguably what is missing in the cruel.  She recommends choosing books that feature bullying, such as William Golding’s classic novel Lord of the Flies.  Perhaps if the bully could see the world from Piggy’s perspective, they would start being nicer to their peers.


In Next Week’s Programme

In next week’s programme: Food and Water – essentials for life, but how can we ensure everyone has enough? A special programme recorded at the European Development Days in Brussels, with Ernest Ruzindaza, Girish Menon, Jean Pierre Halkin and Luca Montanarella.

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