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: Could suburban sprawl be good for segregation? Low-density neighborhoods more likely to stay integrated

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

Surveys may assess language more than attitudes, study says

7 hours ago

Scientists who study patterns in survey results might be dealing with data on language rather than what they're really after—attitudes—according to an international study involving the University of Colorado ...

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.