The way people act towards others is controlled by a set of social preferences.Some tend to be greedy, and others altruistic. There’s a third group of people that does not care how their payoff compares to others. They focus instead on changing other’s fortunes as much as possible.
A recent paper from Abdolkarim Sadrieh and Marina Schröder of the Otto von Guericke University found, based on experiments where participants control what others receive, that the population splits neatly into thirds. About one third try to make the most for themselves, another third are altruistic, and the final third, as the authors put it, have a “desire to influence others.”
The authors write:
“The interesting aspect of the desire to influence others is that it combines seemingly contradicting preferences for acts of kindness and acts of maliciousness. The contradiction is easily resolved by noting that an individual with a desire to influence others does not seek utility from the distributional consequences of the own actions, in the way an altruist, an equity-seeker, or a competitive envy type would. Instead the desire to influence relates to gaining utility from the process of altering the fortune of others, no matter in which direction.”
It’s a fascinating third option for when considering what motivates people when they’re making choices. Generally, research and models assume that utility comes from a personal payoff or feelings about what others gain or lose. A significant portion of people seems to make a different sort of calculation.
Read the whole paper here
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