Consumers Who Care

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Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 287-288
DOI: 10.1126/science.1193044

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People care about others and have concerns for fairness. In a nutshell, this was the finding of early laboratory experiments in economics (1, 2). That people parted with their own money either to benefit anonymous others or to punish unfair subjects, rocked the economic model of selfish decision-makers. But how exactly do people care? Although economists have made great progress in parsing the exact nature of this concern in laboratory experiments, little is known about how concern for others plays out in consumer markets and in corporate decision-making (3). On page 325 of this issue, Gneezy et al. present some interesting evidence in this regard (4). Their results indicate that the impact of consumer concerns about fairness can be at once powerful and subtle.