Can you switch off your sense of fairness (and your selfishness)?

You can, with the help of magnetic ‘stimulation’ of certain parts of your brain. Check out this Scientific Americanpiece:

In the [ultimatum] game, a researcher offers two players a set amount of money and explains that if they agree on how to divvy it up they will keep that money for themselves. If they don’t, neither will get anything. One player then offers the other a split. Our thirst for fairness dictates that most players will reject a patently unfair division–such as offering only $4 out of a total of $20. Yet, self interest would argue that even $4 is better than nothing …

TMS [transcranial magnetic stimulation] affects electrical activity in the brain, altering neuron firing in the area where it is applied. During … tests, 44.7 percent of the young men who experienced TMS on the right side of their prefrontal cortex accepted the most unfair offers–a split of 16 to fourcompared with just 14.7 percent of those whose left side had been stimulated and 9.3 percent of the controls. …


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