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Population: The Universal Social Interaction Profile

With the various kinds of societies, it is difficult to know how societies will interact with one another or respond to social pressures. As a guide to predicting how societies or NPC groups of any kind are likely to behave in social situations, I would like to suggest a Universal Social Interaction Profile (USIP).

This has seven independent characteristics, with the distribution of possibilities following the same 2d6 as the UPP in most versions of Traveller.

  1. Cohesiveness
  2. Tolerance
  3. Flexibility
  4. Hedonism
  5. Generosity
  6. Honor
  7. Violence
This and individuality might be considered opposites. An extreme low cohesion score indicates that all individuals are solitary. If groups do form, they are of short duration. A high cohesion indicates the tendency to form groups to the extent that individuals mean nothing to the group.
Alien tolerance
This has to do with how much physical or mental differences are important to the society. A society with low alien tolerance is xenophobic: Even trivial differences assume great significance. A society with high alien tolerance will, for example, treat all sentient beings as equals, without regard to appearance and little regard to behavior. There are no "us-them" distinctions.
This has to do with how well new ideas and behaviors are accepted by the group. A very low flexibility is rigid and unchanging, often with a strong caste or hierarchical structure. A highly flexible society is so highly tolerant of change that social structure is temporary and transient, and fads and fashions are common.
This has to do with the pursuit of pleasure. A society with extreme low hedonism tends to be ascetic and self-denying, and endurance or acceptance of pain and suffering. A society with extreme high hedonism tends to seek pleasure, both physical and mental, as the highest good.
This has to do with material acquisitiveness. A society with extreme low generosity is miserly and greedy: If possible, the society will take anything they can and give nothing. A society with high generosity is so openhanded that they will give anything to anyone on request. A society with average generosity will have equal or fair exchange as a value.
This has to do with trustworthiness. A society with low honor cannot be trusted, either to tell the truth or keep any promises that are made. A society with high honor will never decieve or mislead, and will regard promises as inviolable. A society with average honor will be mostly relable, but with frequent lapses. This includes also the degree of voluntary compliance with laws.
This has to do with willingness to use physical violence to accomplish the society's ends. A society with low violence is completely pacifistic: one with high violence sees nothing wrong with killing at the slightest provocation. A society with average violence tends toward tit-for-tat behavior most of the time.

Some examples:

This society tends to be fragmented, but so exceptionally tolerant of differences that it is one of the prime virtues of the society. Groups are more likely to split into factions that respect each other's differences than to enforce conformity. This is a somewhat difficult, painful process, since flexibility is on the low side. The society leans heavily toward the ascetic and self-denying. People are exceptionally generous and openhanded: You may not like your neigbhor, but you won't let him starve. Theft is quite low, but there is a strong reliance on polite lies and fictions to smooth over social differences. Overall, there is a tendency for polite, highly complex social games, with high esteem expressed for "respected colleagues". These more often result in division and rearrangment of social factions that in violence, but it is not unknown.
This society is fairly cohesive, with unity stressed slightly over individualism. There is a marked tendency to an us-versus-them mentality, so social conflicts tend to become polarized. Flexibility is on the low side: so adjustments are somewhat difficult, but not unreasonably so. Hedonism is about average for human society: some but not excessive pleasure seeking is encouraged. Generosity is about human average, and the ideal is an emphasis on fair trade; but practice is about balanced between generous giving and theft or fraud. Honor is on the low side: In this society, it manifests itself in a tendency to make treaties and contracts and then disregard them. There is some tendency for disputes to be resolved violently, but the cohesive, structured, polarized tendencies of society mean that it is more organized, large-scale warfare; more gang than individual, although smaller scale violence is not unknown.

My Impressions of the "normal" or average for societies in the major races would be:

[Editor's/Webmaster's Note: The author has specifically requested that feedback on this article be directed to him at Sapience@compuserve.com. Please direct a copy of your comments to the feedback address below, as well.]