In the previous articles, we talked about protocol (Protocol in the XXI Century) from a scientific point of view. The existing literature on the discipline (Overview of the biography of Protocol) is like. Today we would like to talk about another equally relevant perspective: what is the origin of protocol?

The first answer that will probably come to our minds as professionals will be human socialisation. After all, it is a tool used in the celebration of symbols. But according to what we have researched from the perspective of sociology or psychology, this would be an obvious yet completely wrong answer among other disciplines.

From the psychological perspective, authors such as Ruiz Tafur (2009) review the phenomenon of socialisation according to authors such as Freud and Piaget. Her findings lead her to argue that it is defined as the acquisition of patterns of behaviour, attitudes and values that constitute the substrate on which the personality of the human being is built. Hence, socialisation would allow us to explain how the integration of the norms and standards of society occurs but not the process of creating them. Therefore, from this psychological perspective, the protocol does not come from the phenomenon of human socialisation.

Let’s look at the socialisation process from a sociological perspective. It is considered the process by which a person becomes a functional member of society, acquiring the culture that is his own. Socialisation is the process of acquiring a culture (Lucas Marín, 1986, p. 357). From this perspective, socialisation has an important weight because it entails a process of formation and growth of an individual but does not explain the origin of the protocol.

Ruling out human socialisation led us to investigate the latest scientific literature on human cooperation, and it is precisely there where we consider having found the origin of the protocol.

Studies argue that altruism or cooperation’s origin would be what we call parental altruism. In other words, it is the fact that occurs in animal and human species where cooperative behaviour is experienced with the nearest «family» to perpetuate the genetic makeup. This type of behaviour with the evolution of the species argues that it will be part of one or more genes in humans that will be transmitted from one generation to another. It is curious to say that the origin of cooperation is a selfish attitude.

This will produce what is called «reciprocal altruism» at one point or another. This implies a predisposition to altruism towards the nearest «family» and other people outside this nucleus who will also be recognised as altruists (Silva & Gustavo, 2015, p. 87). However, this is a limited altruistic behaviour since it is subject to expected retribution in the future. Taken to the animal world, we can give the alert call of some types of birds when a predator approaches to warn the rest of the group.

It is precisely at this point that a first step is taken towards the emergence of protocol since we move to the moment in which the human being realises that collaborating in groups -first with one or two people, and then with bigger groups- increases their chances of survival in their environment. This fact, moreover, is a turning point for humanity, as it will be able to discriminate between selfish and altruistic people. This situation is associated with an evolution in which the concepts of friendship, culture, moral aggression, etc., will emerge as elements that will reinforce, or not, cooperative behaviour. In addition, communication and other associated skills will also be developed.

With this scenario described, the necessary conditions are given for the birth of protocol. There will come a time when humans are in groups that need to equip themselves with rules that guarantee harmony. Who eats the most nutritious food? Who will be the gatherers, and who will be the hunters? Who sleeps in the safest place? Who has the necessary merits to lead, and what are those parameters that fit it? This situation is the origin of the protocol in our point of view. Settlements will be created, dominant individuals will emerge, coalitions and hierarchies will be identified with symbols, and gods will respond to and expand very abstract elementary concepts… The dominant power will realise that the use of events and protocol is a powerful communication tool that helps them stay in power and create a «brand image».

In addition, this origin would explain why each social group has a different type of protocol depending on its culture. Each of these groups that had no contact, or very limited, with each other has developed its own rules of coexistence and mechanisms. Therefore, to be able to deal with each other and maintain a peaceful coexistence, mechanisms have emerged that have given rise to what we call international and diplomatic protocol.

Protocol, hence, implies an escape from anarchy, chaos, and loneliness in search of the security offered by a group under a set of pre-established rules.




Acedo, C., & Gomila, A. (2013). Confianza y cooperatión. Una perspectiva evolutiva. Contrastes. Revista Internacional de Filosofía, 18, 221-238. https://doi.org/10.24310/contrastescontrastes.v0i0.1169

Calvo, P. (2017). Reciprocidad cordial: Bases éticas de la cooperación. Ideas y Valores, 66(165), 85-109. https://doi.org/10.15446/ideasyvalores.v66n165.53225

Lucas Marín, A. (1986). El proceso de socialización: un enfoque sociológico. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 44(173), 357-370.

Ruiz Tafur, P. (2009). La Investigación En El Tema De Socialización. Psicogente, 12(22), 326-340.

Silva, C., & Gustavo, A. (2015). Cooperación humana, reciprocidad y castigo. Un enfoque evolutivo. Revista Colombiana de Filosofía de la Ciencia, 15(30), 81-121. 

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Written by Daniel DELMÁS, Professional of events and protocol 

Category: International Protocol

Reference: DD171121IP

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