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: Why plants in the office make us more productive

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

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User comments : 4

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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.