Here in my own hometown, research has been done on group dynamics to show that people who act in the interest of everyone can influence others to do the same and the whole group benefits. Mark Weber, of the University of Toronto, who conducted the research, says:
The prevailing wisdom in many scholarly circles has been that consistent co-operators are suckers, and that others will take advantage of them by getting a free ride on their efforts. But our study found that people who start out acting in their own self-interests, but then see others consistently acting for the good of the group, tend to follow suit and become more co-operative themselves. And, as a result, everyone in the group can come out ahead.
From The Situationist:
Even if just one person in a group is consistently co-operative, he or she can shift the behaviour of the whole group to become the same way, found the study Prof. Weber did in conjunction with J. Keith Murnighan, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. It appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
All it takes is one good person to lead. All it takes is one good act to start the snowball of goodness. That gives me hope!
H/T The Situationist