Success Depends on Others Failing

I came across this article today. It’s somewhat interesting overall, but there are 2 things which particularly struck me, first, the following paragraph…

The researchers were especially interested in the set of outcomes where both players answered correctly. For any given prize value, the brain’s reward response was bigger if the other player earned less. Players on average were more pleased with a 60 euro prize when the other player got just 30 euros, for example, than they were if both players earned 60 euros, or if the other player got more.

I can only guess what my brain scan would show, but my gut feeling is that I’d likely feel empathy for the person being rewarded less and/or reduced satisfaction (or no satisfaction) due to the fact that my reward is inflated. However, I could definitely understand the negative reaction if I were the person being rewarded less and the satisfaction for being rewarded more for doing more.

Also, this seems really sad to me. It would indicate that humans are, in general, inherently selfish as we have no problem seeing others rewarded less for doing the same work.

(I hate that the article somewhat convolutes the issue, by casually making a segway to the “keeping up with the Joneses” concept; there’s a fundamental difference in keeping up and keeping up unfairly)

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