A 'guilt trip' is the road to cooperation

May 11, 2017 by Lindsay Brooke
A 'guilt trip' is the road to cooperation

A new study has found that feeling guilty has a positive effect on our behaviour and leads to better cooperation - a discovery that could help people better manage everything from dog mess and energy bills to climate change.

The study – 'Guilty repair sustains cooperation, angry retaliation destroys it' -published in Scientific Reports, was carried out at the University of Nottingham. It shows that encourages people to repair a situation and helps to support cooperation, whilst anger creates retaliation and a breakdown in cooperation.

With the help of volunteers the research team looked into the role of emotions. Using a scenario based around shared energy use in the home they found that when energy use was made visible with smart meters and usage is unequal, as is common, the group reacted angrily and retaliated by using more energy. But if the person using more felt guilty and moderated their usage the situation would be repaired and cooperation restored.

Psychologist, Dr Anya Skatova, who led the study while she was with the Horizon Digital Economy Research at Nottingham, is now at the Warwick Business School. She said: "We all know the term 'guilt trip' and understand how it feels. Our study shows that rather than being wholly negative, feelings of guilt can actually be positive and lead to positive behavior and improve cooperation."

Dr Alexa Spence, from the University of Nottingham's School of Psychology and Horizon Digital Economy Research, and a co-author of the study said: "The implications of this study are far reaching. If we understand that guilt leads to cooperation we can begin to recognise this and moderate our engagement activities accordingly to improve it. Cooperation is vital to everyday life, from the very small annoyances like not picking up dog mess on the street to the larger political landscape. Recognising that anger can harm cooperation and guilt encourages cooperation could actually lead to a more harmonious society."

Their research also showed that while everybody feels angry if others are uncooperative causing retaliation, some people just don't feel guilt and remain uncooperative. This imbalance causes decline in .

Explore further: Guilt helps sell self-improvement products, new study finds

More information: Anya Skatova et al. Guilty repair sustains cooperation, angry retaliation destroys it, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep46709

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TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (5) May 11, 2017
So shaming works? And this is a new discovery?

One must remember though that there are many people we deal with who are incapable of feeling shame.

"Imagine - if you can - not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

"And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools [goobers].

"The high incidence of [psych]opathy in human society has a profound effect on the rest of us... The individuals who constitute this 4 percent drain our relationships, our bank accounts, our accomplishments, our self-esteem, our very peace on earth."
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (5) May 11, 2017
And shaming will only work within the confines of a perceived tribe. You cant shame a gang banger for victimizing people outside his gang. To him, the practice is both honorable and expected.
katesisco
3.7 / 5 (3) May 11, 2017
Well, that certainly explains why big money corporates donate money to the arts after robotizing their manufacturing plant.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (3) May 11, 2017
This is more evidence that groups evolve, although I agree we Otto, we have known this instinctively for a very long time. The study concludes that feeling guilty leads to better cooperation, which in turn benefits groups. This causal chain is strongly suggestive that feeling guilty is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior that results from living in groups that evolve.

Until we understand what the effects are on individuals living in evolving groups we will not fully understand ourselves or our society. For example, science and religion are often seen at odds, but it seems more likely that religion is the result of the evolution of groups, not mass delusion or revealed truth. There is an opportunity here to provide a sound scientific basis for the existence of religion as an evolutionary adaptation, and thus put it into its proper context.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
"The high incidence of [psych]opathy in human society has a profound effect on the rest of us."

The more psychopaths the greater the burden on society. So one question is how does this continue to exist? Are psychopaths and the groups they are in simply failing to evolve as fast as the rest of us (maybe) or were they useful in some situations (maybe), such as war? As repulsive as killing without remorse is, one might imagine it could be very useful in war. If we can understand what the real answers are, not only will we have a better insight into ourselves, we might have better idea of how the evolutionary landscape could be affecting societies throughout the universe.

"And shaming will only work within the confines of a perceived tribe."

That sounds right, so the answer is obvious: Redefine the perceived tribe to be the entire human race.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
religion is the result of the evolution of groups
Religion was an innovation that allowed for larger and more cohesive groups. Religion is nothing more than the tribal dynamic - internal altruism with external animosity.
not mass delusion or revealed truth
Its the exploitation of these tendencies in humans. Religion takes advantage of the unique faults and defects of our brains, which in turn are the result of tribal life and domestication.

Group selection is not evolution. Humans didnt evolve, they developed.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) May 11, 2017
The 2016 election should have been enough proof that shaming can blow back. If the scientific community still does not get this, then it might very well happen again in 2020.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
It seems possible the "perceived tribe" has gone from family to extended family to tribe to city-state to nation. So the trend is obvious. Next the perceived tribe is the entire human race. In Star Trek the perceived tribe goes beyond the entire human race to include all the races in the federation of planets, and maybe even more.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
The more psychopaths the greater the burden on society. So one question is how does this continue to exist?
"Over and over again we come up against that little problem: religion and belief systems that have to be defended against objective evidence or the beliefs of others. We have to ask ourselves "where did these belief systems come from that so evidentially are catastrophic?"

"Psychopaths dominate and set the standard for behavior in our society. We live in a world based on a psychopathic, energy stealing food chain, because that's just the way things are. Most people are so damaged they no longer have the capacity to even imagine a different system based on a symbiotic network."
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
perceived tribe to be the entire human race
Yah thats what Ive been saying - the universal tribe, the human race.

And this appears to be whats going on. Globalization, the forced movement of people out of their incipient cultures to attend school, massive floods of refugees, english as the standard language... an endless list if you think about it.

And its been going on for centuries. Rome was at times 80% slaves from foreign lands who assumed the positions of roman citizens who moved to the provinces to comingle. Alexander encouraged his soldiers to settle in conquered lands. Both arabs and knights hospitaler roamed the mittlemeer stealing people and depositing them elsewhere.

The US is a country based on homogenization - the melting pot - that is what it was created to do.

Tribalism is the greatest enemy of humanity and requires great effort over many centuries to mitigate it. It is in our genes and must be bred out of us just as it was bred into us.
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
"Religion was an innovation that allowed for larger and more cohesive groups."

That is right in my opinion, and it gave those groups a distinct advantage over other groups. I am suggesting this is the result of the "evolution" of groups, although you could use different terminology it you want. From my perspective, automobiles compete and "evolve" too.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
"Religion was an innovation that allowed for larger and more cohesive groups."

That is right in my opinion, and it gave those groups a distinct advantage over other groups. I am suggesting this is the result of the "evolution" of groups, although you could use different terminology it you want. From my perspective, automobiles compete and "evolve" too.
Its a process of intelligent design. Its the difference between natural and artificial. the distinction is necessary and useful.

Why are we agreeing here? It is making me queezy.

You want money or something?
Mark Thomas
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
"Why are we agreeing here? It is making me queezy."

LOL, perhaps we are evolving. :-)
richk
not rated yet May 11, 2017
i/don't/know/the/structure/of/the/experiment/but/not/all/guilt/arises/from/being/shamed/does/it?maybe/just/seeing/one/is/taking/more/than/fair/share/is/enough.
pntaylor
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2017
My mother wasn't Jewish. If someone tries to lay
a guilt trip on me, in regard to something I am
not interested in, I don't have a problem saying FU.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet May 12, 2017
Guilty repair sustains cooperation, angry retaliation destroys it

Politicians take heed.

Well, that certainly explains why big money corporates donate money to the arts after robotizing their manufacturing plant.

Tax writeoffs?

Religion was an innovation that allowed for larger and more cohesive groups

Religion institutionalized guilt to the point where you can't ever be free of it. That perverts the entire idea of guilt. It made it just another control mechanism.
Instead of whipping their slaves religious leaders found a way to make the slave whip themselves.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 12, 2017
Religion was an innovation that allowed for larger and more cohesive groups


Religion institutionalized guilt to the point where you can't ever be free of it. That perverts the entire idea of guilt. It made it just another control mechanism
Hey. Stop reading my stuff.
koitsu
5 / 5 (1) May 14, 2017
No offense to Catholics (I'm formerly Catholic), but the Church has known this for quite some time. I would argue that guilt is not so much facilitating "cooperation" as it is facilitating compliance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 14, 2017
No offense to Catholics (I'm formerly Catholic), but the Church has known this for quite some time. I would argue that guilt is not so much facilitating "cooperation" as it is facilitating compliance.
Perhaps they could start at the very beginning for guilty feelings.
https://www.youtu...KK7V8XMc

-and every foul deed since.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) May 14, 2017
@ghost Tribalism is the greatest enemy of humanity and requires great effort over many centuries to mitigate it. It is in our genes and must be bred out of us just as it was bred into us.
What we have now is one tribe homogenizing, balkenizing and globalizing all others while excluding itself. Their tribalism only grows from their sanctioned counterfeiting scam
TheGhostofOtto1923
May 15, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MR166
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2017
"The US is a country based on homogenization - the melting pot - that is what it was created to do."

It was a great plan while it lasted. Now cultures are encouraged to remain separate. One group is played against the other in a divide and conquer strategy. Men are pitted against women, minorities against whites, the list goes on and on. George Soros's plot is coming together nicely.
MR166
not rated yet May 15, 2017
Notwithstanding the fact that some pretty bad criminals were raised Catholic, Christian and Jewish religions do teach some very valuable social guidelines. The 10 commandments being the foundation of each. As secularization takes root, IMHO people seem to be a lot more unhappy and without optimism. Also their view of each other seems to be less positive.
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2017
A 'guilt trip' is the road to cooperation

...which is why compromising photos of your boss will lead to promotion quicker than exceptional performance. :p
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) May 15, 2017
@ghost Except for crimea you mean. Right?

Explain Crimea. It was CCCP territory put under custodianship of regional Ukraine authorities. After breakup of CCCP every region could declare it's alliance or independence. Crimea chose to delay this referendum. Later the referendum passed with 99% choosing reunification with Russian state. SO are you advocating Ukrainian NAZI demands of seizing and exterminating all opposition? Why do you hate liberty and freedom? Ukraine not even a real state. Right now it is dissolving. Ukraine means borderland. It was amalgamation of different lands with different people. Even in Kyiv majority speak Russian. It is territory like Puerto Rico, with some silly CIA color revolutions for show
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2017
@ghost Except for crimea you mean. Right?

Explain Crimea. It was CCCP territory put under custodianship of regional Ukraine authorities. After breakup of CCCP every region could declare it's alliance or independence. Crimea chose to delay this referendum. Later the referendum passed with 99% choosing reunification with Russian state. SO are you advocating Ukrainian NAZI demands of seizing and exterminating all opposition? Why do you hate liberty and freedom? Ukraine not even a real state. Right now it is dissolving. Ukraine means borderland. It was amalgamation of different lands with different people. Even in Kyiv majority speak Russian. It is territory like Puerto Rico, with some silly CIA color revolutions for show
Yadayadayada

Majority of people in sudetenland spoke german.

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