As a species, human survival depends on cooperation, which our ancestors developed by banding together in small, close-knit groups of individuals who thrived by reciprocating help over time. But this evolutionary recipe for success seems at odds with modern societies, composed of millions of individuals who are strangers to each other.
Prof. Gabriele Camera and his colleagues devised a series of economic experiments to examine whether money affects human behavior in ways that help explain this seeming paradox. To measure cooperation in groups of strangers, participants from a group of undergraduate test subjects faced repeated opportunities to aid anonymous counterparts, at a personal cost. The choice to give help was based solely on trust that the good deed would be returned by another stranger in the future. To facilitate this cooperative process, participants could observe the behavior of the entire group.
Larger groups cooperate less
With cooperation isolated in this manner, the researchers then varied the group size and found that trust and cooperation decreased as groups grew larger. In larger groups subjects gave in to their opportunistic temptations and so cooperation significantly declined. This trend changed when researchers introduced intrinsically worthless tokens to the group. The participants spontaneously began to reward help with a token and to demand one in exchange for help. The exchange of tokens facilitated cooperation among large groups of strangers because participants trusted strangers to return help for a token, in the future.
Different types of trust
The experiment thus demonstrates that the lack of trust among strangers made money behaviorally essential. The exchange of symbolic objects sustained cooperation because participants considered tokens a form of compensation for their good deeds. «What is fascinating is that the use of money bolsters cooperation by replacing one type of trust with another, stronger, self-sustaining type of trust», explains Camera.
This cooperative scheme, however, displaced norms of voluntary help, which were strong and effective in small groups. As a result, the use of money sustained stable cooperation as groups got larger, but did so at the cost of reducing cooperation in smaller groups. According to the authors, the findings demonstrate how the influence of monetary systems extends beyond economic performance.Original citation
• Prof. Dr. Gabriele Camera, Chapman University, Phone: +1 714 625 2806. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeitere Informationen:
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine