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The Satisfaction from Giving, Cooperation, and Fairness

While material well-being has evolved as a basic need, many other needs have developed in us over thousands of years of living in social frameworks. One such primary need that formed from leading a social life is the need to give and to receive. Human societies have always worked in cooperation because it enhanced their sustainability. Cavemen were far more successful in hunting and protecting themselves and their clans when they collaborated and lived a communal life. An individual who did not cooperate risked being ostracized, which often meant certain death.

The tendency to cooperate to achieve satisfaction still exists within us as strongly as the mechanism that assures our material well-being. An often-played game in behavioral economics is known as “The Dictator Game.” In it, a player receives a sum of money and is supposed to decide how much of it to keep. Approximately 80% of players give some money to the other player, and about 20% of those split the sum evenly [87]. This demonstrates how giving, cooperation, and fairness bring us more satisfaction than the satisfaction that comes simply by receiving money.


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