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What's fair? Societal structures, not human nature, teach us
Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke all meditated on the development of social contracts that they considered necessary for people to operate in large societies. Game theory gives scientists a chance to test some of these ideas with hard data. By having people play anonymous games with money, researchers found that people from larger societies, ones that are more integrated into the market, are more likely to be fair in anonymous dealings; these same people are more willing to punish others when they are unfair. These findings suggest that fairness and punishment in dealings with strangers are largely learned behaviors, and that we need these norms and institutions to prevent our communities from fragmenting.
psychology  science  sociology 
march 2010 by whip_lash
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