Fwd: Research Shows Just How Much People Hate A Winner

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Date: Sun Mar 17 2002 - 19:36:28 MST

"The authors conclude that our experiment measures the dark side of human
nature..." Obviously the authors aren't being quite pessimistic enough, or
they would have said: "Our experiment adds another of humanity's many dark
sides to the collection that have been experimentally measured." No cause
for despair, though; there are experimentally measured good sides, too.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://intelligence.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

attached mail follows:

Research like this is not conducive to making one an optimist.

-James Rogers

------ Forwarded Message
From: Kennita Watson <kennita@kennita.com>
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 12:07:45 -0800
Subject: Research Shows Just How Much People Hate A Winner

I recently received this chilling article on the cryonics mailing
list I frequent. It goes a long way towards explaining why
Libertarianism hasn't caught on, why the US is plagued by
terrorism, and even why some individuals sometimes behave in
petty or cruel manners, even to their own detriment. "What a
piece of work is man" (Shakespeare)!


---- Original message follows ----
Research Shows Just How Much People Hate A Winner

New research by economists at the Universities of Warwick and Oxford in the
UK has provided surprising insight into just how much people hate a winner.

It also shows what lengths human beings are prepared to go to damage a
winner out of a sense of envy or fairness.

The researchers, Professor Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick and
Dr. Daniel Zizzo of Oxford, designed a new kind of experiment, played with
real cash, in which subjects could anonymously burn away other people s
money -- but only at the cost of giving up some of their own.

Despite this cost to themselves, and contrary to economists usual
assumptions, 62% of those tested chose to destroy part of other test
subjects cash. In the experiment, half of all the laboratory earnings were
deliberately destroyed by fellow subjects.

Everyone in the laboratory sessions was anonymous and hidden. The subjects
had only a computer terminal, into which they played, and in which they
could see how much other people were winning.

In each session, the test subjects began with a betting stage which gave
them some money (about 10 pounds, but sometimes much more), creating an
unequal wealth distribution.

In the final stage, the burning stage, subjects could if they wished
eliminate ( burn away ) other people s money - but only by giving up some
of their own cash winnings. At the most expensive level, they had to give
up 25 pence to destroy 1 full pound owned by someone else.

It was made clear to all subjects that burning others would reduce the cash
of the person choosing to burn.

The economists expected little burning, and especially that the laboratory
subjects would stop destroying other people s money once the price reached
0.25, but in fact they found that even this high price did little to stop
people from annihilating other people s wealth. Most individuals still
chose to hurt others, despite the large cost to their own pocket.

The researchers found that those who gained the most additional money at
the betting stage burned poor and rich alike, while disadvantaged
laboratory subjects mainly targeted those subjects they saw getting what
they perceived as undeserved financial windfalls.

The authors conclude that our experiment measures the dark side of human

(Reference: Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others Incomes? Annales
D Economie et de Statistique, Special edition Vol 64 Feb 2002.)

The full paper is in PDf format at this link
   Professor Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics
   University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 523510 (Office)
   01367 860005 (Home) Web http://www.oswald.co.uk
   email: andrew.oswald@warwick.ac.uk (office)


May you live long and prosper,
Kennita Watson          | Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
kennita@kennita.com     |   None but ourselves can free our minds.
http://www.kennita.com  |           -- Bob Marley, "Redemption Song"
------ End of Forwarded Message

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