Saturday, March 20, 2010

Markets Make People Fairer

Evolutionary psychology has worked to show that a lot of our sense of morality is in our genetic makeup – hardwired in, as it were. Well, according to this piece at Reason Magazine, markets seem to help. Science Shows That Markets Make People Fairer

Are people innately fair-minded or is it learned behavior? A fascinating new study, "Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment," that is a big step toward resolving this question is being published today in the journal Science [subscription required]. The researchers find strong evidence that market institutions cause people to treat each other, especially, strangers more fairly. The research is based on the results of behaviorial experiments in 15 different societies which have varying amounts of integration into markets.

In a way, it makes sense. Societies that implement rules that make social interactions, including trade, fairer, would tend to be more successful than those that don't. The more successful societies spread farther and have more influence.

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