People May Be Stingier Than Thought

People May Be Stingier Than Thought

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People may not be as generous to strangers as social scientists previously believed, at least if a new study is any indication. The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may help explain a seemingly irrational behavior: People consistently give money to other people, even when it hurts their own bottom line in an economic game used by scientists to study cooperation.

Those findings suggested that people are naturally generous. But the new study suggests people may donate to the common pool not out of generosity, but because they simply don’t understand how their actions will lead to payoffs down the line. The findings suggest these games aren’t a great way to understand human generosity, said study author Maxwell Burton-Chellew, a zoologist at the University of Oxford.

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