During our time on this planet, we humans haven’t lent a hand to just anyone. Instead, we have usually saved our solicitousness for our own kind. And although over millennia the boundaries separating “us” from “them” have widened—from only kith and kin to entire neighborhoods and nations—the tendency has stayed the same: We help our own. Yet a surprising new experiment shows just how easily this human bias can be transformed into altruism.

“The connections between affiliation to the group...

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