Friday, April 13, 2007

Robin Hood impulse in "human nature"

The University of California finds:

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.