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Looking for the Most Fair-Minded, Unselfish People on Earth? Science Suggests You Should Check Your Local WalMart

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level 1
3 points · 8 years ago

I'd probably check a Zen monestary or medition school before I'd check a Walmart, and I suspect I'd be able to find a few unselfish people by doing so.

level 1

because they've been murdered and their bodies have been hidden in the clothing department...

level 1
1 point · 8 years ago

Wow. This is quite an extrapolation from the content of the original article. Here is the actual abstract for those who are interested in getting the story without all of the confused bullshit:

Large-scale societies in which strangers regularly engage in mutually beneficial transactions are puzzling. The evolutionary mechanisms associated with kinship and reciprocity, which underpin much of primate sociality, do not readily extend to large unrelated groups. Theory suggests that the evolution of such societies may have required norms and institutions that sustain fairness in ephemeral exchanges. If that is true, then engagement in larger-scale institutions, such as markets and world religions, should be associated with greater fairness, and larger communities should punish unfairness more. Using three behavioral experiments administered across 15 diverse populations, we show that market integration (measured as the percentage of purchased calories) positively covaries with fairness while community size positively covaries with punishment. Participation in a world religion is associated with fairness, although not across all measures. These results suggest that modern prosociality is not solely the product of an innate psychology, but also reflects norms and institutions that have emerged over the course of human history.

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 8 years ago

I'm completely confused by your comment. The NYT article actually did a fairly decent job of explaining some of the multitude of findings in the wide-ranging, cross-discipline Science article (if it didn't, I wouldn't have posted it!), such as that:

  • (1) people in small communities (population about 50) were less willing to inflict punishment than people in larger communities (about 1,800), as reflected by their scores on behavioral experiments (on which shoppers at a rural MO Wal-Mart achieved higher scores for 'fairness' than a wide variety of "less-modern communities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Africa, Asia and Latin America"),

  • (2) this creates a puzzle as to how larger but fair societies were able to develop in the first place, and

  • (3) that factors that seemed to contribute are the community’s increasing level of “market integration" and participation in a unifying religion.

All of this is covered in the article. Do you think there's something in the article abstract or the full Science article that wasn't included in the NYTimes article? Or are you just objecting to the 'hook' that the NYTimes (and, by extension, I) used to get people to bother reading the explanation of the study??

level 3
1 point · 8 years ago

Basically the hook. The article devotes the first 3 paragraphs (nearly a screen full of text) to trying to the sensationalist claim that going to the grocery store causes morality. This is not really what the paper is about, and is pretty misleading...

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