Psychologists have discovered that honesty towards each other can be combined with dishonesty towards the group

Psychologists have discovered that honesty towards each other can be combined with dishonesty towards the group
Psychologists have discovered that honesty towards each other can be combined with dishonesty towards the group
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New experiments are helping to explain why bankers, who easily steal from clients and investors, just as easily part with money for charity.

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News feeds now and then report large thefts by bankers and other financiers who steal money from investors and depositors. No wonder some scientists propose to introduce something like the "Hippocratic Oath" for such professions.

At the same time, such criminals easily show generosity to individuals, for example, by allocating money to help specific sick or homeless people. How are such seemingly completely opposite features combined? A new article by Swiss psychologists published in the journal Nature Human Behavior is devoted to this issue.

Carlos Alós-Ferrer and his colleagues experimented with 640 students. Dividing them into groups of 32, the volunteers were asked to play the game "The Big Robbery". At the start, everyone received the same small amount of money, after which they were distributed equally to the "crooks" and "victims". The former could completely anonymously and unnoticed by those around them take a part (up to half) of the amount from the "victims" - about a hundred euros.

The experiment showed that more than half of the "crooks" took the maximum possible amount (half), over 80 percent - from a third to a half, and only a few refused such theft - about two percent. Moreover, the decision to steal was made the faster, the larger the amount was discussed. This may indicate that no one experienced much moral suffering during this.

However, the same volunteers underwent tests with other money games, in which funds were required to be divided not with a group, but with specific game partners. In such a situation, they showed much more honesty and easily parted with money, regardless of gender and social factors.

The authors concluded that for the sake of profit, people will easily go to deception and crime if a large and anonymous group is harmed, but behave more honestly and cooperatively when it comes to deceiving a specific person.

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