Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fairness


If everyone hasn't heard this study it's very interesting.

Two people who didn't know each other (this was done with participants across gender, race, and culture) were set side by side in front of an evaluator. Person 1 was offered an amount of money, (the studies results were consistent regardless of the amount) and then told they had to divide it up however they wanted between him or herself and person number 2. Person 1 could keep it all, or give it all, or anywhere in between. Person 2 then had two choices. Accept the deal. Or Both get nothing.

So the study goes on, some pairs with 100 dollars, other pairs with larger amounts. All participants were adult age, varying with gender and race. The study showed some interesting results. When person 1 would divide up the money 50/50 or in favor of person 2, (wonder how often that happened), person 2 would accept 100 percent of the time. This continued with 60/40. From that point on if the dividing up became more one sided towards person 1, for example 80/20 then person 2 increasingly would decide that neither of them would get anything because it wasn't fair. Basically saying someone was greedy so no one gets anything.

When the dividing up was more than about 70/30 person 2 overwhelmingly would choose for them both to walk away empty handed.

Now lets think about this. These are two people who have never seen each other and probably will never see each other again. THIS IS FREE MONEY!! Person 2 can choose to accept at least some amount of money or walk away with 0$. Lets think..... 20$ or 0$? Yet choosing to get NOTHING to "prove" that a line of fairness was crossed. Person 2 would be so upset at person 1's greediness that he or she would choose to prevent them both from getting anything. Person 2 due to some very curious thought process and emotion, wanting to "show that greedy other person a lesson" would elect 0$. The results went up above 95% when the division of money went above 90/10.

What an insight into human behavior. Just imagine the results with people who know each other and maybe harbour a tiny bit of resentment towards them.

The Gospel of Christ teaches there is joy in giving. I would say almost everyone would agree. But often there is this human tendency to not only not give....but sabotage everyone if I don't GET enough. I watched Judge Judy the other day on TV... this concept can get ugly in real life.

I would guess had person 1 chosen to give person 2 the better deal a friendship may have begun after they left the room. Anyone agree?

In all this I'm not saying to choose to come out on the loosing end of exchanges in life. I don't think that is the principle in this. I think when occasion permits, maybe additionally when resources permit, to show unselfishness towards our fellow man and see what happens.

Connecting this to an underlying gospel principle, paying tithing I think can become totally empty dull and routine. I think the Lord intended to make us happier and more elevated by doing so, not make us poorer or feel lacking. And even if suddenly the church said for one year no one had to pay tithing, I wonder who and what part of the practice of consecrating a portion of our income to those in need would continue? The answer would say a lot about the character of the previous full tithe payers. Interesting thought. I guess it only really matters what I would do. Others can do as they choose.

I think it's fun to find the underlying principle in things. Then try and live it.

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