Evolving righteousness in a corrupt world

September 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: British colonial past no protection from corruption

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

Related Stories

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 ...

Transparency in politics can lead to greater corruption

October 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 ...

Corruption drops as incomes rise: study

January 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.

Recommended for you

French teen finds 560,000 year-old tooth (Update)

July 28, 2015

A 16-year-old French volunteer archaeologist has found an adult tooth dating back around 560,000 years in southwestern France, in what researchers hailed as a "major discovery" Tuesday.

The couple who Facebooks together, stays together

July 27, 2015

Becoming "Facebook official" is a milestone in modern romance, and new research suggests that activities on the popular social networking site are connected to whether those relationships last.

4 comments

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.