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Study reveals "Robin Hood impulse" in human nature

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Study reveals "Robin Hood impulse" in human nature

Old 04-11-07, 05:00 PM
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Study reveals "Robin Hood impulse" in human nature

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070411/...robinhood_dc_3

By Will Dunham
32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Robin Hood lives!

People taking part in a game designed to explore egalitarian impulses in human nature consistently robbed from players assigned the most money while giving money to those with the least, scientists said on Wednesday.

James Fowler, a University of California at San Diego political scientist, and his fellow researchers detected what they saw as a "Robin Hood impulse" in people who took part in the experiment, described in the journal Nature.

"That's the classic story we all know, where someone's taking from the rich and giving to the poor, which is exactly what we're seeing in this experiment," Fowler said in a reference to the medieval English folk legend.

"In essence, what we found is that our taste for equality is one of the important reasons why we cooperate with each other, much more so than, say, other species of primates," Fowler said in a telephone interview.

The experiment was carried out last year using 120 paid student volunteers at a computer lab on the campus of the University of California at Davis.

The volunteers sat at computer terminals, and a computer would assign them into groups of four. Once placed into a group, each person was assigned an amount of money and was told how much money the other three members were given.

The players then had the chance to spend some of their own money in order to increase or decrease the amount the others possessed, but their actions provided no financial gain for themselves.

They played the game five times, but never with anyone from a previous group. This was to eliminate the possibility of players trying to establish a reputation for themselves or taking revenge on others who might have taken money from them.

EQUALIZING INCOME

About 70 percent of participants at some point reduced or added to another person's money, most often by taking from the richest players or by donating to the poorest players, the study found.

These actions had the collective effect of equalizing income among the players -- with participants spending their own money to achieve the goal.

The researchers said even players whose own loot had been pilfered in previous rounds were willing to take steps to redistribute the money in an egalitarian manner.

Fowler acknowledged the experiment might yield different results if conducted in another country or somewhere other than a U.S. college campus, but suggested a certain universal egalitarian yearning might be seen.

"I think in general we would find a preference for equality, but there may be significant variations between societies. And so it's certainly a possibility that our desire for equality is in part shaped by our upbringing," Fowler said.

I've finally found out what's been ailing me!

Chris
Old 04-11-07, 05:03 PM
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But if they got together 120 CEO's of the top companies in the U.S. the results would be vastly different.

Chris
Old 04-11-07, 05:10 PM
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Fowler acknowledged the experiment might yield different results if conducted...somewhere other than a U.S. college campus...
No shit, Sherlock.
Old 04-11-07, 05:27 PM
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What? Only 3 views and 2 replies? Come on people, I tried to be inflamatory in my remarks!

Chris
Old 04-11-07, 05:33 PM
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Fowler acknowledged the experiment might yield different results if conducted in another country or somewhere other than a U.S. college campus,
No big surprise when they've been indoctrinated with communist claptrap for 12+ years.
Old 04-11-07, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
But if they got together 120 CEO's of the top companies in the U.S. the results would be vastly different.
I should hope to god so.

In case you didn't see the fatal flaw in the experiment:

[The players'] actions provided no financial gain for themselves.
Oh, and the fact that it wasn't real money.
Old 04-11-07, 06:10 PM
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I find that people tend to always be generous with money that isn't theirs.
Old 04-11-07, 06:20 PM
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I think if they told the subjects that the person who accumulated the most money would win an IPod, would have given entirely different results.
Old 04-11-07, 06:30 PM
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Fowler acknowledged the experiment might yield different results if conducted in another country or somewhere other than a U.S. college campus, but suggested a certain universal egalitarian yearning might be seen.
I suspect if he told the volunteers the amount they were paid would be directly related to their performance in the game itself he would have had different results w/ the same group of people. It easy to be generous w/ play money.
Old 04-11-07, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
It easy to be generous w/ play money.
I guess you've never played Monopoly!

Chris
Old 04-11-07, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I find that people tend to always be generous with money that isn't theirs.
Yeah. Give real money to college students and see how much they give away.
Old 04-11-07, 07:10 PM
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Less than 20 replies in, and a bunch of random folks on a message board have already invalidated this study. Awesome.
Old 04-11-07, 07:13 PM
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You know, I hope I don't have this impulse. To throw away perfectly respectable stuff like Robin Hood and follow it with stuff like The Postman isn't my style.

Now, Waterworld. There's a HIT!
Old 04-11-07, 07:13 PM
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It's all fun and games until someone reaches for MY money!
Old 04-11-07, 07:24 PM
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I have "Robin Williams Impulse" where I just stay stupid shit and make dumb impressions like a tourettes disorder. <john wayne>know what i mean partner?</john wayne>
Old 04-11-07, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Less than 20 replies in, and a bunch of random folks on a message board have already invalidated this study. Awesome.
Lord Groucho of Utah has spoken...we can close this thread now.
Old 04-11-07, 08:50 PM
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Haha, tell that to all the rich people in the world.
Old 04-11-07, 10:51 PM
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each person was assigned an amount of money and was told how much money the other three members were given.

This says more about the scientists than it does about the participants. The scientists think that income is distributed instead of earned.

If the participants had had to work to earn the money, and they had gotten more money for doing more work, then I don't think any of the participants would have wanted to redistribute the money afterwards.
Old 04-11-07, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
I suspect if he told the volunteers the amount they were paid would be directly related to their performance in the game itself he would have had different results w/ the same group of people. It easy to be generous w/ play money.

You said it before I did!
Old 04-11-07, 11:16 PM
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The authors of this crap study, like most people, have no understanding of economics. People respond to incentives. When they're playing with fake money in a game with no winners or losers, the only real incentive is to make plays that will make them look good. People would like others to think of them as egalitarian, so they give money to the "poor" people in the game. The study is pretty pointless because it's not analogous to any real life situation. The fact that this was published in Nature, a highly respected scientific journal, is embarassing.

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