Collective protective instinct?
June 16, 2014 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for research/articles/papers on people's instinct to sacrifice for the "greater good". I have read an article mentioning John Bowlby and a term called "collective protective instinct", but outside of said article I haven't found any mention of this term.

I've been given 24 hours to present my findings on an interdisciplinary research topic. My subject is "The conflict between the biological parental instinct to protect offspring, and societal values of sacrifice for the "greater good", particularly in times of conflict." What I mean to study by this is mothers (particularly mothers because of the hormonal differences, and because I need to narrow my research) sending their sons and daughters off to war, and psychological mechanisms that help deal with this conflict.

I should note that asking the hivemind's help in looking for resources is not considered cheating on this assignment, as it's main objective is to assess my ability to approach an unfamiliar subject from an interdisciplinary perspective and present my findings in a coherent manner.

I have found many resources about the parental instinct to protect offspring (motherhood aggression, hormones, postnatal brain functions, etc) yet not much scientific data about people's instinct/behavioral patterns of sacrificing for the greater good. Any help would be much appreciated!
posted by alona to Human Relations (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might find more searching for altruism, social utility, social decision making, and stuff like that.
posted by ceithern at 8:01 AM on June 16, 2014

Assuming you're affiliated with a university you should consider asking one of the reference librarians at your university's library. She or he can help you figure out search terms, and will know which resources (like e-books and databases) are available to you.
posted by mareli at 8:05 AM on June 16, 2014

i think utilitarianism is what you want to look into
posted by monologish at 10:01 AM on June 16, 2014

The Lucifer effect by Zimbardo talks about acts of heroism and he has a TED talk on it (I think heroism is in the same book..)
posted by tanktop at 11:14 AM on June 16, 2014

I agree with ceithern.Focus your searches around Altruism.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 2:22 PM on June 17, 2014

Would you consider "the cause" to be the same as "the greater good"? Most things I've read about wars seem to think they are fighting for the cause. That might be a better search term.
posted by CathyG at 5:18 PM on June 17, 2014

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