Main content

Does it Pay to be Nice?

Is being a team player and putting yourself second really the best strategy?

Most of us want to be nice. But is it all it's cracked up to be? It's a question that's been nagging at listener Tony in Illinois, USA, for over 25 years. While studying at university, the lecturer asked him whether competing or co-operating was the best strategy for success – essentially, does it pay to work together or should we sharpen our elbows and look after number one?

Nastaran Tavakoli-Far goes in search of answers. She talks to a local hero about why he puts his life on the line for others, and visits a neuroscientist to find out what happens in the brain when we help others. Her quest also leads her to question whether women really are the more co-operative sex and how an animal called a kudu might reveal how human co-operation evolved in the first place.

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at

(Image: John Cook from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. Credit: Anna Lacey / BBC)

Available now

27 minutes

Last on

Sun 18 Dec 2016 01:32GMT


  • Sat 17 Dec 2016 11:32GMT
  • Sun 18 Dec 2016 01:32GMT