Human cooperation is particularly important because of humanity’s power to make choices that influence others, including the natural world. Empathy is an essential component of cooperation, and develops naturally with companionship caregiving.
Empathy depends on well-functioning self-regulatory systems that are shaped in early life during sensitive periods of neurobiological development. Learning empathy comes initially from experiencing empathy from one’s birth attendants, caregivers and playmates from day one with plenty of face-to-face expressive interaction: (young infant “play”). Empathy represents a deeply embodied response, fostered by evolved caregiving practices.
Analyzing research in light of human evolution reveals that thriving child outcomes grow from experiences of the high nurturing we evolved as a species to provide. During later childhood relational experiences, children fine-tune and elaborate upon early foundations.
Empathy is fundamental to cooperation and compassion and involves learning to be in tune with the emotional states and needs of others. It means having the social skills, self-control and openness to coordinate activities with them. The more socially agile and receptive one is, the greater possibility for cooperation and more likely the success of partnerships and groups.