Rejecting unfairness: emotion-driven reaction or cognitive heuristic?

In the following paragraphs, I am arguing that rejecting inequality, even when it means sacrificing available resources, could be interpreted as a default response that occurs when there is no other reason to choose otherwise. Moreover, I am reviewing some of our latest findings suggesting that emotions might not be the sole mechanism that ultimately explains this response, as claimed instead by the most accredited account (e.g., Sanfey et al., 2003; van’t Wout et al., 2006; Crockett et al., 2008; Tabibnia et al., 2008). The idea that a 50-50 share is preferred over other distributions, when there is no reason to support one of the contending parties, is not new to the psychological debate: it has been suggested that people use equality heuristically, because it has psychological advantages, such as being a cognitive simple strategy, easy to use and to be understood by everyone, quickly implemented, defensible, and, moreover, a useful starting point from which, in case, adjustments can be made (Messick and Schell, 1992; Messick, 1995).


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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