We are ready to go an extra mile for friends

Updated: Apr 02, 2011, 10:05 AM IST

London: A new study has found that people are actually willing to do more for their friends than themselves.

In an intriguing experiment, volunteers were asked to squat against a wall with their knees at right angles – a ski training exercise which becomes increasingly painful with time.

They were told to hold the position for as long as they could and paid 1p for every second they spent squatting.

The volunteers performed the exercise five times, once for themselves and four more times to win the money on the behalf of different colleagues.

In a result that paints a more altruistic picture of society than we might expect these days, they often endured more pain for their closest friends than for themselves.

The study’s author, Freya Harrison, of Oxford University’s zoology department, said that while the numbers involved were small, there were lessons to be learned.

“Of the 17 people involved, ten of them squatted longer for at least one of their recipients as for themselves and so there is something going on,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

“Some people squatted twice as long for their closest link than for themselves.

“I think that if our results hold in general and people really do go the extra mile for close friends, compared with when they invest effort for themselves, it points to the importance of co-operation in our species.

“It suggests that maintaining social ties and working together has been an important factor in the success of humans as a species,” she added.