Monday, August 25, 2014

Altruistic Punishment

Those who receive charity have their lives improved, but those who provide it also benefit. 

Indeed, one recent study found that spending money on others is more rewarding than spending it on oneself. ...those who donate wealth and time to others tend to be a lot happier in their entire lives than those who do not. The paradoxical finding here is that one great trick to being happy is to forget about being happy and instead try to increase the happiness of others.

This is the flip side of charity. We are motivated to be kind to anonymous others, but we are also motivated to harm those who treat these anonymous others badly. 

The problem that arises is that our gut moral feelings are poorly attuned to consequences. The patterns of charitable donation to foreign countries often have more to do with the salience of news reports than to actual considerations about where the money is most needed. 

And laboratory findings show that people will continue to punish even if they are well aware that doing so is actually making things worse. It is not difficult to see the consequences of this in the real world.


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