Study suggest people act fairly due to spite, not altruism

Feb 12, 2014 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) —A study done by philosophers Patrick Forber of Tufts University and Rory Smead of Northwestern University, suggests fairness in societies evolves out of a fear of spite from others, rather than due to an increase in altruism. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the two describe a mathematical/computer model they built based on a well-known game developed to study economics called The Ultimate Game and how it showed that spite, not altruism appears to drive fairness.

Most people would like to think that they and other people are fair in their dealings with others because of some inherent goodness, i.e. some form of . In this new study, Fober and Smead suggest that the real reason people are fair with one another is because they fear being the victim of a spiteful action.

Spite, the researchers note, is the opposite of altruism—it's when people cause something negative to happen to someone else, at their own expense. And it too, they add is a part of fairness, or at least in its perception.

To come to their conclusions, the researchers built a math/computer model that simulates the Ultimate Game—players are given cash and told to give some to another player—who can than accept or reject the offer. The goal of course after several iterations is to be the player who winds up with the most cash. In studying the , the researchers have identified four types of players: rational, fair, easy rider and spiteful. They found that in running the simulation, that spite evolved as a strategy—players would reject reasonable offers for example if they "felt" they had been slighted earlier. In such cases, both players wound up receiving nothing. As spite evolved, they found, so too did the advantage of the easy rider player—one who consistently made and accepted reasonable offers. Spiteful players played themselves out of the game, fair players got duped and rational players lost out to spiteful . By playing reasonably, the easy riders were able to win out, which the researchers suggest, indicates that playing fairly, but reasonably, comes about out of a fear of losing to those who would spite us.

The simulated game can't mimic real life of course, with all its nuance, but it does shed some light on the real possible source of in everyday life, even if it's something we may not want to acknowledge.

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More information: The evolution of fairness through spite, Proc. R. Soc. B 7 April 2014 vol. 281 no. 1780 20132439, Published 12 February 2014 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2439

Abstract
The presence of apparently irrational fair play in the ultimatum game remains a focal point for studies in the evolution of social behaviour. We investigate the role of negative assortment in the evolution of fair play in the ultimatum game. Spite—social behaviour that inflicts harm with no direct benefit to the actor—can evolve when it is disproportionally directed at individuals playing different strategies. The introduction of negative assortment alters the dynamics in a way that increases the chance fairness evolves, but at a cost: spite also evolves. Fairness is usually linked to cooperation and prosocial behaviour, but this study shows that it may have evolutionary links to harmful antisocial behaviour.

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User comments : 16

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dogbert
3 / 5 (8) Feb 12, 2014
Such studies usually reflect the bias of the study designers or an agenda.
The goal, of course, is to be the player who winds up with the most cash.


The goal is biased against altruism.

ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2014
Except for climate change scientists.
They are pure altruists.
julianpenrod
1.6 / 5 (14) Feb 12, 2014
Just another example of fraud in the lie factory called "science".
Like the "experiment" to "prove" cell phone use causes accidents. It began by "defining" a cell phone as the "cause" of an accident if it was used less than ten minutes before the accident. So you could receive a call at a restaurant, leave, get into your car, then be plowed into by the drug addicted kid of a politician, and you would be blamed for having used the cell phone ten minutes before!
True, once you know the specifics of this "experiment", you see the fraud. That's part of "science's" swindle, they generally don't allow the nature of their "experiments" out and absolutely never allow the "rank and file" to tangibly examine what the liar "scientists" claim to be "results", evidence" or "proof" they "possess".
Caliban
3.6 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2014
My own researches clearly demonstrate that humans act from a wide range of impulses, and that to try and yoke human behavior with a "one size fits all" basis of motivation is the most arrogant, ignorant, and errant of nonsense.
Nestle
3.3 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2014
fairness in societies evolves out of a fear of spite from others, rather than due to an increase in altruism
Altruism is the belief in fairness. The authors probably had a self-sacrifice on mind, which isn't based on fair play - you're giving more than you're receiving in this case. To explain such a behavior with fear of spite from others is more difficult, because just this behavior often mets with contemptuous if not dismissive attitude. The people don't actually like the selflessness people and consider them annoying just because their sense of fair play ("you should get what you give"). Such a selflessness ruins the rules of fair business for them, so to say.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.2 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2014
"(Phys.org) —A study done by philosophers"

-STOP right there. Scientists do studies. Philos do art. Very poor art.

"The presence of apparently irrational fair play in the ultimatum game remains a focal point for studies in the evolution of social behaviour"

-Lets ask a scientist about this...

"There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection" (Darwin, 1871)

-Altruism is a science word. Group selection is a science phrase. Humans are altruistic toward fellow tribal members because they were SELECTED for it. The compulsion is wholly biological.

What is LEARNED is the scope and extent of the tribe. This explains how altruism and animosity can be turned on and off so easily.
omatwankr
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2014
Can they redo this model with Pussies, Dicks and Assholes?
http://www.urband...h%20ever
kochevnik
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2014
Spiteful players fell out of the game. So when there are such people the strategy is to play fairly and reasonably. Then, after the spiteful leave, altruism is the optimal strategy

This is why man has control circuits of the posterior cortex in his brain, and also has consciousness. Together they navigate the debris and gems of spacetime
thingumbobesquire
not rated yet Feb 13, 2014
I believe the study itself shows spite against the benefactors foolish enough to finance it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2014
control circuits of the posterior cortex in his brain, and also has consciousness
Circuit and cortex and brain are science words. Consciousness is a nonsense philo word which describes nothing.

From "Soul Dust," Nicholas Humphrey:
"as deep an existential truth as anyone could ask for — is this: We do not want to be zombies," he writes. "We like 'being present,' we like having it 'be like something to be me.' "

-But it doesnt matter what we like or want. What matters is what IS.

"The brain knows the real secret of seduction, more effective than even music and martinis. Just keep whispering, "Gee, you are really special" to that sack of water and protein that is a body and you can get it to do practically anything."

-Ive been thinking about this for awhile. Consciousness is the desire for special dispensation. We demand it from our parents. We get it from the tribe. It IS repro rights. It explains religion, insurance, gambling. Machines need not be plagued with it.
HealingMindN
not rated yet Feb 14, 2014
"the researchers suggest, indicates that playing fairly, but reasonably, comes about out of a fear of losing to those who would spite us..." Is this a "one size fits all" perspective of human society? Considering that the source is The Royal Society in the UK, who exactly was their test demographic?
kochevnik
5 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2014
@Ghost Circuit and cortex and brain are science words. Consciousness is a nonsense philo word which describes nothing.
Your "science" seems stuck in the 1940s. Currently the mainstream view is that consciousness is not driven by the brain. Subjects can report great clarity of perception when MRI scans show near brain death. The brain is not the mind

This study reflects fear-based ego thinking. There is also thinking based upon pleasure. These dualities are in every choice the mind makes and even single-cell organisms must choose between self or socializing
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2014
Your "science" seems stuck in the 1940s. Currently the mainstream view is that consciousness is not driven by the brain
Your 'science' is not referenced and so we cannot properly criticize it. But current scientific thinking is that there is nothing which is not physical and so cannot be addressed scientifically.

Consciousness is an illusion. The concept is not necessary to explain anything.

"Also [Dan] Dennett says that only a theory that explained conscious events in terms of unconscious events could explain consciousness at all: "To explain is to explain away"."
Subjects can report great clarity of perception when MRI scans show near brain death.
Perception is not consciousness. Machines have perception.
The brain is not the mind
The brain is all there is. The mind doesn't exist. If you're referring to some sort of muscle memory or something, that has been thoroughly debunked.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Feb 16, 2014
"The simulated game can't mimic real life of course" -- enough said.
zaxxon451
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2014
Ghost -- I would suggest more research into the Hard Problem of Consciousness. Dennett's arguments are less than satisfactory to many philosophers.

The Chinese Room (John Searle) is an interesting place to start, which argues against strong AI.

Another interesting thought experiment is Mary's Room (Frank Jackson), which suggests to me that there is more to experience than can be explained by materialism.
zaxxon451
not rated yet Feb 16, 2014