Comments on: The Triumph of the Social Animal Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:34:09 +0000 hourly 1 By: SeaWa Wed, 02 May 2012 16:27:17 +0000 1- During the pendulum swing it is important to realize that our social and economic system must meet the instinctual needs of both ‘self survival’ (a.k.a. capitalism/greed) and ‘communal survival’ (a.k.a. socialism/sharing). Both are part of our human instinct. Neither can be disregarded in a truly successful economic or social system. Granted, within that system, there may be subsystems that act as gyroscopes balancing the whole (e.g. religion, sports, politics, etc).

2 – I’ve really been enjoying Ms. Freeland’s articles lately. Sometimes I agree with her premise, sometimes disagree -vehemently. But her articles almost always introduce a new line of thought or a different perspective to me. The word ‘profoundly’ comes to mind, but I am to simple a person to muster ‘profound’.

By: fredschumacher Wed, 02 May 2012 11:57:13 +0000 This research meshes well with the evolutionary history of human beings. As a class of animal, we are social, territorial predators. For 99% of our history, we lived in small bands, sharing resources with each other, paleolithic beings now occupying a modern world of our own invention.

If humans had acted the way classical economics posits, we would never have survived as a species. The glorification of the individual is a very recent construct in our development. The lone wolf, both human and canid, is seen as a romantic ideal but is actually a death sentence. Traditional societies used ostracism as a form of capital punishment.

By: JimGoddard Mon, 30 Apr 2012 07:25:31 +0000 An interesting, thoughtful article. The poster who refers to it as “marxist garbage” says far more about their limited intellectual knowledge and defensive narrow-mindedness than they do about the article. As other posters have pointed out, there is widespread evidence from elsewhere, such as in primate studies, that we need a much wider sense of what motivates human beings than a simple focus on the economic and material.

Some of the best capitalists have always understood this. One only has to look at the lives and views of major figures in the history of business such as -in the UK – Robert Owen, William Lever, the Cadbury brothers and Titus Salt to see this. One of my favourite modern exemplars is the thinking of Stephen Covey, which is a useful corrective to the sort of thinking exemplified by the first poster.

By: skaht Sun, 29 Apr 2012 10:51:14 +0000 ““Monthly data suggest that defects were particularly high around the time concessions were demanded and when large numbers of replacement workers and returning strikers worked side by side.””

It takes research to discover things like this? There’s an ongoing labor dispute in my area, and locked-out employees often tout the lower productivity of replacement workers as “evidence” that the employer should submit to their demands. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which a replacement worker stepping into a position they’ve never had before, (and doing so while the rest of the experienced workforce is locked-out as well….meaning that all of the replacement workers are working side-by-side with OTHER replacement workers having little or no experience), would be as productive or produce work that was of equal or better quality than the normal worker’s is.

Is this really surprising? Did “experts” need to be consulted in order to figure any of this out? Did the experts have any suggestions or advice to offer up? I’m just curious as to how a replacement worker, (or more accurately workFORCE), could be expected to perform at the same level as the experienced workers they’re temporarily replacing.

The concept of “fairness” is a funny thing. Some folks automatically make the assumption that management is/was acting “unfairly” during a contract negotiation and subsequent strike or lock-out, and yet those SAME individuals have no problem whatsoever pointing their fingers at a replacement worker and broadcasting their lower productivity to the world. Derogatory terms like “scab” are welcomed and deemed acceptable as well.

It’s all so confusing….

By: sahuntree Thu, 26 Apr 2012 13:11:15 +0000 ‘VOLUNTARY’ acts of kindness and justice are necessary concepts. Throw political economy into the mix and no longer is voluntary the modifier, rather ‘higher taxes.’

By: steve778936 Thu, 26 Apr 2012 05:56:47 +0000 Although your article is timely, I’m surprised that any economist or politician would discount ‘fairness’ as a major driver. In the US, much of the current debate about the economy revolves around the concept of fairness. Those who objected to TARP for example mainly saw it as unfair in terms of saving some and sacrificing others. The perception of the banker’s role in the recession is also based on the idea that they acted unfairly and were unfairly compensated. It seems beyond argument that the perception of unfairness is much more powerful, particularly across populations, than any paradigm of ‘pure rational self interest’.

By: SeaWa Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:42:54 +0000 It is heartening to see that “Kindness and Fairness” are human traits becoming recognized in the media as important. Right now it appears, repulsively so, that greed and selfishness reigns throughout the world.

Perhaps these hard economic times make many in the masses feel more vulnerable and therefore more considerate towards others in the realization they themselves may need assistance someday. Perhaps many still invulnerable are driven toward considering fairness toward others by their own feelings of guilt and shame for their unexplainable abundance.

However, it is disheartening to see these positive traits (kindness and fairness) relegated to the chapter of social instinct. But, it must be true. One can feel it in their bones.

By: VincentLawrence Wed, 25 Apr 2012 14:20:54 +0000 Chrystia Freeland,
A very interesting article.
While economists should play a roll in all the spending issues, there must be a balance with Patriotism.
If it is all about self serving, and self interest, it little more than Socialism.
On the Battle Field it is about survival of the team, the patrol becomes secondary to survival. It is never only about oneself, if I survive and no one else does, could I call surviving, living, no, I would die of guilt.

By: GLK Wed, 25 Apr 2012 11:31:17 +0000 The problem lies simply in the fact that the legal definition of a Corporation as a “living entity” takes too much of the accountability off the shoulders of the individuals running a company. Additionally, since obviously a Corporation really isn’t human it doesn’t display human attributes such as empathy and trust. Corporations by their very design are psychopathic in nature grabbing profits at the expense of anyone or anything that gets in the way. The system needs to be redesigned and until it is expect nothing to change.

By: Alistair2 Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:54:50 +0000 In one experiment, subjects were paid 50 percent more, the same amount or 50 percent less than a peer for doing the same amount of work. Crucially, the absolute payment the research subject received in each case was identical.

Doesn’t this show people want to minimise their time at work and maximise leisure? This suggests we should allow people to choose the hours they work and be paid accordingly. With less people needing desk space at the office this should be easier to arrange than it was.

For what it’s worth I think we’re motivated not so much by feelings of fairness and decency for everyone. We’re motivate more by the feeling that we are valued and respected.