In your neighborhood: Are you Altruist, Egoist… or a Hooligan? (ENG/ESP)

In your neighborhood:  Are you Altruist, Egoist… or a Hooligan? (ENG/ESP)

TL;DR Generosity in small neighborhoods generates virtuous cycles that promote the mutation of egoistic behaviors into reciprocity


[OPINION PIECE] In a modern society that seems increasingly more chaotic, where there are presidents declaring war on the world, where there are mass migrations due to conflicts in countries, where hunger and disproportionate wealth coexist, one wonders how virtues such as generosity and altruism can survive. It seems utopic that there are still people willing to assume costs of providing welfare to others without expecting anything in return or having double intentions.

Despite being seen somewhat irrational, generosity, altruism and cooperation can survive in a world surrounded by competition, egoism and Hoolingans(1); for this, behavioral economics has an explanation. Ilan Eshel, Larry Samuelson and Avner Shaked (1988) in their research claim that such behaviors can survive in a small neighborhoods, where reciprocity feeds back, and generous acts become a reference to consider what is acceptable and desirable.

From this situation it is derived that an altruistic or generous one enjoys more a welfare provided by another generous one, thus generating a virtuous cycle of cooperation and desirable behaviors. However, these behaviors are more likely to appear in a small neighborhoods as we are more likely to imitate behaviors of people nearby us.

Interestingly enough, in these neighborhoods an egoistic person can enter and progressively modify their behavior, imitating the behavior of the generous ones. Notwithstanding, conditioned to that a majority of this neighborhood is a “generous”. In this way, egoism starts to change and by imitation it tends to transform into reciprocity considering that we are more willing to help those who help us.

It is then necessary to consider the neighborhood of which we are surrounded, to inquire how kind our actions are, and if, on the contrary we are being egoistic in the homo economicus sense; in such a way that if we want to improve our behavior, we should surround ourselves by “generous” and “kind” people.


(1) Eshel, Samuelson and Shaked (1998) define Hooligans not as psychopaths, but as those people who obtain well-being by imposing costs on others. An illustrative example is when a person throws a candy wrap on the street with the argument that there are people dedicated to performing public cleaning at nights, and that somehow, it is their job to collect this waste.



En tu comunidad: ¿eres generoso, egoísta… o un Hooligan?

TL;DR La generosidad en vecindarios pequeños genera círculos virtuosos que promueven la mutación de comportamientos egoístas en reciprocidad


[OPINION PIECE] En una sociedad moderna que cada vez parece más caótica, dónde existen presidentes declarándole la guerra al mundo, dónde hay migraciones masivas por conflictos en los países, dónde coexiste el hambre y la riqueza desproporcionada, cabe preguntarse cómo virtudes como la generosidad y el altruismo pueden sobrevivir. Pareciera ser una utopía que aún existan personas dispuestas a asumir costos por proveer bienestar a otros, sin esperar nada a cambio o tener dobles intenciones.

A pesar de parecer algo irracional, la generosidad, el altruismo y la cooperación pueden sobrevivir en un mundo rodeado de competencia, egoístas y Hoolingans (1) (aquellos que tienen bienestar al hacer daño a otros), y para esto, la economía del comportamiento tiene una explicación. Ilan Eshel, Larry Samuelson and Avner Shaked (1988) aseguran que estos comportamientos pueden sobrevivir en pequeños vecindarios, donde la reciprocidad se retro alimenta, y lo actos generosos se vuelven una referencia para considerar lo que es aceptable y deseable.

De esta situación se deriva que un altruista o generoso disfrute más de un bienestar provisto por otro generoso, generándose así un ciclo virtuoso de cooperación y comportamientos deseables. Sin embargo, estos comportamientos son más susceptibles de aparecer en vecindarios pequeños, ya que somos más propensos a imitar comportamientos de personas cercanas.

Además, en estos vecindarios un egoísta puede entrar y progresivamente modificar su comportamiento, imitando los comportamientos de los generosos. Eso sí, condicionado a que una mayoría de este vecindario sea “generoso”. De tal forma, el egoísmo empieza a mutar, y por imitación tiende a convertirse en reciprocidad, teniendo en cuenta que estamos más dispuestos a ayudar a quienes nos ayudan.

Cabe entonces considerar el vecindario del que estamos rodeados, indagar qué tan bondadosos son nuestros actos, y si al contrario estamos siendo egoístas en el sentido homo economicus; de tal manera que si queremos mejorar nuestro comportamiento, deberíamos rodearnos de gente “generosa” y “bondadosa”.


(1) Eshel, Samuelson and Shaked definen los Hooligans no como psicópatas, sino como aquellas personas que obtienen bienestar al imponer costos a los demás. Un ejemplo ilustrativo está cuando tiramos una envoltura a la calle con el argumento de que existen personas dedicadas a hacer aseo público en las noches, y que de alguna forma, es su trabajo recoger estos residuos.

Bibliography

Eshel, I., Samuelson, L., & Shaked, A. (1998). Altruists, egoists, and hooligans in a local interaction model. American Economic Review, 157-179.


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Summary
In your neighborhood:  Are you Altruist, Egoist… or a Hooligan? (opinion piece) ENG/ESP
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In your neighborhood: Are you Altruist, Egoist… or a Hooligan? (opinion piece) ENG/ESP
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Generosity in a small neighborhoods generates virtuous cycles that promote mutation of egoistic behaviors into reciprocity
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Expilab Research
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06 Feb 2019
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Daniel Guerrero
Daniel Guerrero

Associate Researcher @ Expilab Research. Daniels pursues Doctorate studies at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona with focus on Applied Economics.

Comments

  1. Nowadays the good question would be whether it translates to social media settings. Curious to see any research on that

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