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Monday, January 20, 2014

What Drives Us to Do the Right Thing?

A look at recent brain research on voluntary giving versus avoiding punishment

By Robert M. Sapolsky
The Wall Street Journal
Originally posted January 2, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

It turns out that doing the right thing voluntarily is very different from doing it to avoid punishment. Recent research even reveals a basis in the brain for this distinction.

In one experiment, a participant in an economic game is given money. In the first round, she chooses whether to share any of it with another anonymous participant. In the second, she makes the same choice knowing that the other player can punish her afterward if he is unhappy. No surprise, the amount shared increases, and the magnitude of that increase indicates the extent of "sanction-induced norm compliance."

The entire article is here.