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A German economist has worked out how a cheap deal can make people ignore their personal convictions - and says his study debunks the idea that market forces can iron out unethical practices.
Armin Falk, an economist at the University of Bamberg, set up a series of experiments to figure out how and why our personal convictions so often fly out the window when we are confronted with a possible bargain.

The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said Falk and his team figured out it was not just the prospect of getting a good deal that undermined good intentions - being in a competitive market made it even worse.

They ran a series of experiments with mice and students which suggested this was the case.

Read about this disturbing but important experiment here.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They should have used rats as subjects. (4+ / 0-)
    They ran a series of experiments with mice and students which suggested this was the case.
    Then we could have more clearly understood how this applies to Republicans.

    Especially those from Texas.

    "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Thomas Jefferson

    by rfall on Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 04:24:59 PM PDT

  •  We Ran our Own Experiment On That (6+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 04:27:51 PM PDT

  •  "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ciganka, Mannie, cynndara

    This book has a number of good studies (well, interesting...I think they are repeatable but their methodology could be cleaned up) about how when market forces intrude on decisions made by people, they make both anti-social decisions AND worse economic ones. When people are guided by concern for their fellow man instead of some market force, they tend to consume less and society works better.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Wed Jun 26, 2013 at 05:03:25 PM PDT

  •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

    A big part of the market influence on behavior is the certain knowledge that your individual action will not change the ultimate outcome: only the extent to which you, personally, profit or lose from the situation.  You know that that mouse is going to die.  The only question is whether you make the money, or someone else does.  Morals can't compete with rational survival behavior; we find that all the time in the context of desperate shortages such as shipwreck and prison camps.  And in the current economic environment, we are all playing a game of musical chairs where there quite obviously aren't enough chairs to go around.

    Capitalism is WRONG.  It deliberately incentivizes the worst in human behavior.  Its claim to virtue was Adam Smith's proposition that it could enlist that worst of human selfishness in processes that provided greater benefit to society overall, but that is no longer the case,  if it ever was (Smith's economy depended upon the extraction of wealth and labor from vast populations of "unpeople" -- Africans, Indians, and convicts).  Society needs rules that blunt and mitigate the natural instincts to hoard, feed, and reproduce, not mechanisms that encourage them.

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