Re: poly: Science News on conditional cooperation

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Wed Apr 08 1998 - 14:11:28 PDT

Hal writes:
>... studies in a variety of countries find instead
>that proposers instead offer 30% to 40% of the total. Most responders
>accept such offers, but reject anything less than about 20%.
>It is suggested that notions of "fairness" evolve in societies in which
>there are many interactions with strangers, and that these principles
>guide behavior in such experiments. One theorist, David Sloan Wilson,
>is characterized as believing that people evolve genetic traits geared
>towards the interests of groups and not just individuals, a controversial

The rationality of rejecting an offer depends on when you consider the
choice. Considered at the time of the offer, it seems irrational. But
considered before the game is played, it can be rational to commit to
having a policy of not accepting small offers. It seems that our
genes have committed us in many ways to policies that many not be rational
at the time, but that are rational if you stand farther back.

Similar stories can be told about why people "get mad" and seem to spend
a lot to "get revenge". It can be advantageous to commit to such a policy,
though given the actual situation one might be better off not getting mad.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Wed Apr 8 21:19:59 1998

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