New research by economists at the Universities of Warwick and Oxford has provided surprising information on 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, where subjects could anonymously “burn” away other people’s money - but only at the cost of giving up some of their own money. 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.
Peter Dunn | alphagalileo
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