Psychology

Shame and Honor Work

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Science  10 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6035, pp. 1242-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6035.1242-d

Humans have evolved both rewards and punishments to dictate those behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. The extent to which shame and honor affect individual decisions in group situations where cooperation leads to reduced individual benefit, however, is not well understood. Jacquet et al. used anonymous donations as a means to separate out behavior stimulated by honor and shame by exposing those who had given the most versus the least in a public goods game setting. Both honoring those who donated the most as well as shaming those donated the least led to an approximate 50% increase in cooperation, showing how the desire to avoid shame and gain honor shapes an individual's behavior.

Biol. Lett. 7, 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0367 (2011).

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