Fairness in Modern Society

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Science  19 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5972, pp. 1467-1468
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188537

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Experiments in psychology and economics have demonstrated that in industrialized societies all over the world, a substantial fraction of individuals will be fair in anonymous interactions and will punish unfairness (1, 2). However, it has not been clear whether this benevolent, prosocial behavior depends on innate human psychology or norms peculiar to industrialized societies. Henrich et al. explored the motivation for fairness in anonymous interactions across dramatically diverse societies and on page 1480 of this issue (3), they report that this behavior increases with the level of the society's market integration, measured as households' average percentage of calories that are purchased.