Today and next Tues: we will show you some work we are doing at PED -that uses • evolutionary dynamics • game theory • experiments -to understand human psychology, e.g. • Altruistic motives • Sense of beauty • Why we are “principled”
Will start off “philosophical” (in order to set the stage) Then will present ongoing research… This is work done at PED, with Erez, Oliver, Carl, Alex, Matthiajs, Martin …
We give A LOT ~2% of GDP are donated to charity ~2-4% of hours worked are volunteered
Habitat for Humanity: • college educated 19 year olds • who’ve never held a hammer • fly halfway across the world To build new homes in places where there is plenty of cheap, qualified labor!
Is this just because we don’t realize how ineffective Habitat for Humanity is? Or do we not care how effective we are?
IF we ACTUALLY care about being effective…we should give more when our gifts are matched, no? And even more so our gifts are tripled, no? Do we?
Some economists ran a study where they collected $ for charity… And they manipulated the “matching rate”
We ask… • Why don’t we care about effectiveness? • How can we make giving more effective? More generally… • Why are our altruistic preferences so funny? • Can we characterize our altruistic preferences? • And can we use this knowledge to increase giving? • Or to make giving more impactful?
e.g., let’s learn about the ideal body weight in some indigenous populations in Nigeria...
Clearly, ideal body weight isn’t the same there as here. Why not? Random cultural variation?
Likewise, ideal skin tone varies by culture… In Eastern countries, un-tanned skin is considered more attractive …
Why did our preferences change? Why do they differ between East and West? Random fluctuations?
Even our ideal finger nail length varies by culture… Here’s what finger nails look like on some men among the Khasi in N.E. India
Some subjects were told the second painting was purposely designed by a different artist, making the second painting a forgery. Some subjects were told the same artist painted both. Within each group, half the subjects were told painting A was created first.
When the second painting was “created by the same artist,” it was rated higher Same artist Different artist making the second painting a “replica.” making the second painting a “replica.” Source: Newman and bloom (2011)
Perhaps this has nothing to do with aesthetics… Well…when the study was repeated with an artifact (e.g. a car) instead of paintings, there was no effect…
For instance, this statesmen in the West Wing who returns a card that can save his life...out of principle And we admire him for it…even though turning down the card helps no one
In contrast, people who are strategic and calculating, like this cop from “the wire” who prefer “better stats” to solving murders …are repulsive. Even though his strategic actions don’t harm you…
Why do we like people who are principled/idealistic and dislike those who are strategic/calculated/Machiavellian, regardless of whether their actions help or harm us?
More generally… Where do our preferences and ideologies come from?
In our research… We try to understand from where such preferences and ideologiescome from. Using evolutionary dynamics + game theory + experiments
Game theory models behavior in any social interaction Social interaction=my payoffs depend on what I do as well as what others do. Let me illustrate using a simple game…
L R The simplest “game” can be represented by the following “payoff matrix” 8, 4 5, 6 U D 3, 2 0, -3
L R Player 1 chooses between two actions 8, 4 5,6 U D 3, 2 0, -3
L R Player 2 simultaneously chooses between 2 actions 8, 4 5, 6 U D 3, 2 0, -3
The payoffs to player 1 are determined by her action as well as the action of player 2 L R 8, 4 5, 6 U D 3, 2 0, -3