Politics in a Nutshell
Ariely's analysis is rooted in studies he and others have done involving trust games.
They work something like this: Two individuals are each given $10. The first participant can give his partner the money, and when doing so that $10 quadruples into $40, meaning the partner now has 50 bucks. Why would you just give away money? It has to do with trust, because then the partner has the choice of either splitting the money with the giver or taking it all for himself. Many players do give away their money and end up getting the split amount back, Ariely said.
But not everyone is so trustworthy and reciprocating. So the game has a revenge twist. The giver can choose to use his own money to get back at the other player for not sharing the $50. For every $1 out of the giver's pocket, the greedy player takes a hit of $2.
"The first thing that is surprising is that people actually take revenge [even though] revenge is costly," Ariely said...Ariely referred to a group of Swiss researchers who have found that when players take revenge, the same part of the brain normally triggered by reward lights up.
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We expect people to make complex decisions for the good of the country.
Most people however are acting only in consideration of the effect on themselves.
The result is chaos, as the above study indicates.