Evolving righteousness in a corrupt world

Sep 12, 2012

Initially cooperative societies devolve toward corruption, but introducing small "payments" in conjunction with punishment can lead to stable, righteous societies, according to a modeling study published Sep. 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

It has been difficult to fully dissect the interplay between cooperation, corruption, and punishment in determining societal wellbeing, but the authors of the current study, led by Edgar Duenez-Guzman of Harvard University, found that payments such as increases in social status, combined with strong egalitarian , can eradicate corruption.

Moreover, once corruption has been eradicated, it can be held at bay indefinitely, even if power inequalities return.

Explore further: New poll reveals what Americans fear most

More information: Evolving Righteousness in a Corrupt World. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44432. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044432

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Corruption drops as incomes rise: study

Jan 18, 2012

Corruption is higher in countries with lower incomes according to Victoria University research that compared changes in levels of corruption in 59 countries over nearly 30 years.

Transparency in politics can lead to greater corruption

Oct 10, 2008

Why are some countries more prone to political corruption? Viviana Stechina from Uppsala University, Sweden, has investigated why corruption among the political elite was more extensive in Argentina than in Chile during ...

Policy Reforms May Increase Petty Corruption

May 26, 2008

A study in the International Journal of Economic Theory published by Wiley-Blackwell finds that certain proposed reforms intended to reduce petty corruption can actually have the opposite effect and increase the occurrence of cor ...

Recommended for you

New poll reveals what Americans fear most

17 hours ago

Chapman University has initiated the first comprehensive nationwide study on what strikes fear in Americans in the first of what is a planned annual study. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today ...

Study shows how texas campus police tackle stalking

17 hours ago

One out of every five female students experience stalking victimization during their college career, but many of those cases are not reported to police, according to a study by the Crime Victims' Institute ...

How large-scale technology projects affect knowledge

20 hours ago

What do an accelerator complex at Cern, a manufacturing center in 19th century Philadelphia and lotus cultivation during the Qing dynasty all have in common? All such activities generate knowledge and know-how. ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

enigma13x
5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2012
gee punishing the bad and rewarding the good who would have ever thought that would work ground breaking stuff here
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (9) Sep 13, 2012
Evolutionary religion confirmed.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (9) Sep 13, 2012
Evolutionary religion confirmed.
eaduenez
5 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2012
@enigma13x: the press release simplifies the story behind the article, of course! I would encourage you to read a bit of the article. I agree that punishing the bad and rewarding the good seems like a no-brainer. However, our model shows more than just that. It shows that punishing the corrupt police harsher than regular criminals doesn't actually help removing corruption. Also, the model showed that power asymmetries (which usually promote corruption) don't destabilize a righteous (punishing and cooperating) society.
@kevinrtrs: This work doesn't have any implications to evolutionary religion that I can think of.