Science News December 31, 2011 reports that rats presented with an empty cage will make some effort to open it, but they're not very good at it. If a friend of theirs is locked in the cage they do much better at opening it. Even more interesting, when presented with two cages one of which has chocolate inside and another one which contains their friend, half of the time the rats let their friend go before seeking the chocolate! And the cherry on top? The savior rat often shares the chocolate with his friend. I wonder how people would do on a similar test. Let's say, a friend in jail or a big pile of money in the jail cell next to him.
I suspect that we would do poorly compared to rats. We can think of excuses for not cooperating. It would be really interesting to see if Democrats were more socially responsible than Republicans. This forced choice would put ideology to the test.