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Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance 
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 Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance



Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:02 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
This chapter didn't hit me between the eyes, but after I thought a bit about it I began to see it as JH's reduction of all of our social lives; that is, living socially as we do with thousands of unrelated strangers is possible because tit for tat, or reciprocity, governs our relationships to a high degree. I usually don't like reductiveness in human matters of living, but I think he comes close to the mark and I'm apt to agree with him.

It almost proves his point to observe that, with family and closer friends, tit for tat is less important, at least it seems to me that it is. We make allowances for the way these people are and so don't expect such a strict game of tit for tat. This friend never gives me a birthday present, but okay, that's just the way he is and he has other qualities that I appreciate. When it comes to our family members, it's certainly not true that we stick by them as we do because they play the reciprocity game so well with us. We might have a brother or sister who we wouldn't go near if he or she wasn't family. That must be what kin selection is all about--"mindless" loyalty!



Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:55 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
DWill wrote:
It almost proves his point to observe that, with family and closer friends, tit for tat is less important, at least it seems to me that it is.


This reminds me of this quote from the economist and political philosopher F.A. Hayek:

Quote:
Part of our present difficulty is that we must constantly adjust our lives, our thoughts and our emotions, in order to live simultaneously within the different kinds of orders according to different rules. If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed, rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e. of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilisation), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it. Yet if we were always to apply the rules of the extended order to our more intimate groupings, we would crush them. So we must learn to live in two sorts of world at once.



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Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:54 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
One thing leads to another--now I'm thinking I should read something by Hayek.



Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
DWill wrote:
One thing leads to another--now I'm thinking I should read something by Hayek.


Now that I think about it, Hayek is quite relevant to Haidt's work, but from a different direction. One major theme of Hayek is the limitation of reason in the context of society's institutions. So he argued that markets, laws and norms are emergent institutions that reflect dispersed information and knowledge that often can't even be articulated, and can't just be redesigned from the top down.



Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:31 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
Regarding tit for tat, Jimmy Fallon did a funny bit a couple of nights ago about Russia's occupation of Crimea and the spate of sanctions that followed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as-keji3RJg

I thought Haidt provides an excellent primer here on some of the science behind the golden rule—especially kin selection and even some basic game theory (without the math). I had not heard the term "ultrasociality" before, but I have often thought that human society does resemble an ant colony in some respects, especially in terms of having a special warrior class. In recent decades our entire food production has been "farmed out" so to speak to a very distinct agri-business sector. As such, most of us don’t have to fight in wars or grow food any more.

I had never thought about the role of gossip in this way. Tit for tat looms large in our society. I don’t think Haidt mentions how the principles of reciprocity and tit for tat play out so frequently in our books and movies. I love a good revenge (or tit for tat) flick. There’s something that touches us on a primal level, seeing some bad guy get his comeuppance. Or your basic damsel in distress motif. Or love story.

Kin selection is used as a motif as well. There’s a new show, Crisis, starring Gillian Anderson, that has two sisters trying to mend the fences after a long estrangement. There’s something satisfying about seeing siblings help each other, or an older sibling taking care of a younger one in the face of danger or bad circumstances.


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Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:57 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
I liked his practical advice, too. If someone who wants us to buy from him tries to push our reciprocity button to weasel money from us, let him have it! That's good knowledge to be armed with--that sales is largely about exploiting our instinct to reciprocate seeming kindness or sociability. I tend to be much too susceptible to ploys of that nature. I know that people of my father's generation often find it impossible to be "rude" to anyone trying to sell them something, and therefore they're prime victims for exploitation.

Tit for tat puts the golden rule in a different light--or maybe it simply illustrates that we should take it literally. It's our actual neighbor we should love, which would mean forgiving and making allowances for him. Regarding people in general, keep a more objective, more distant tit for tat in place. The tendency is to read "neighbor" metaphorically as potentially any other human. But not only is it impossible to love in that abstract way, it might be a bad idea for the efficient functioning of a society.



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Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:16 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
I'm always put off when people try to give me something because I know ultimately they're only trying to get something out of me. My dentist's office always wants me to fill out a survey, but I never do. Last time they gave me a free pen with a built-in flashlight which was kind of cool, but I still didn't fill out the survey. (I hate surveys).

Some basic psychology (including evolutionary psychology) can definitely be used to manipulate others and as Haidt suggests can be used to protect yourself against others who are trying to exploit you.

Yeah, the concept of love thy (generic) neighbor is not really possible, but we do have a propensity to form tribes based on trivial commonalities. The people in my neighborhood band together against vandals and alert one another when we see a bear in the area. This is basic tit for tat. I want to be alerted about such things myself.

I always joke to my wife that when I'm wearing my Boston Red Sox baseball cap, I'm automatically welcomed into a national fraternity of Sox fans. It's actually true, perfect strangers will give me a thumb's up or just start chatting with me about baseball when I'm wearing that cap.


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Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:25 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
Quote:
]I'm always put off when people try to give me something because I know ultimately they're only trying to get something out of me.


I'm not reading the book but the above comment made me speculate as to an attitude that perplexes me lately regarding kindness and what seems to be the general reaction to it.

There's already been more than a handful of times when I'd take a walk to starbucks in the morning prior to starting my day at work. Several times i've come back with a 5 dollar gift card and have given it to a coworker at random:

"Here ya go, have a cup on me"

I've stopped doing that because the reaction I would get was one of suspicion. Kind of like, "What did I do to deserve this" or "What is it you want from me or expect of me now that you've given me something free?"

I recently bought one of those Keurig coffee makers for people to have some good tasting coffee.
Wow, some people were just too uncomfortable with the kindness. Others wanted to know how much money would they have to contribute per week for "supplies"

Really? Someone can't simply do something for someone JUST BECAUSE.

As if I wanted something in return for a cup of coffee. :|

Geez.



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Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:11 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
I would amend my comment to say I'm put off by acts of kindness that are obviously extended with ulterior motives. I should have made that clear, although I gave the example of the free pen.


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Last edited by geo on Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:41 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
geo wrote:
I would amend my comment to say I'm put off by acts of kindness that are obviously extended with ulterior motives. I should have made that clear, although I gave the example of the free pen, a harmless enough stunt to be sure.



I figured that.

But still.., what I've experienced confounds me some times. :|



Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:41 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
ant wrote:
. . . There's already been more than a handful of times when I'd take a walk to starbucks in the morning prior to starting my day at work. Several times i've come back with a 5 dollar gift card and have given it to a coworker at random:

"Here ya go, have a cup on me"

I've stopped doing that because the reaction I would get was one of suspicion. Kind of like, "What did I do to deserve this" or "What is it you want from me or expect of me now that you've given me something free?"


Are your motivations absolutely pure, Ant? Don't you get a little something in return? A little social capital, for example. People think highly of you, they are beholden to you to some extent for when you're ready to call in a favor. Haidt begins this chapter by describing a scene from The Godfather that portrays a similar kind of reciprocity in action. In most social situations there are usually strings attached with acts of kindness and we intuitively understand how it all works. Haidt calls this our "ethological reflex."

I've noticed that when I put a dollar in the tip jar, I would rather the barista see me doing it. A pure altruistic act means no one knows that you gave to them. So should I wait until the barista isn't looking and slip in the dollar unnoticed? Would I be a better person for it or is it okay that some of motivation is to ensure continued excellent service next time I visit this coffee shop?


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Last edited by geo on Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:14 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
from Haidt's book . . .

Quote:
What would you do if you received a Christmas card from a complete stranger? This actually happened in a study in which a psychologist sent Christmas cards to people at random. The great majority sent him a card in return.8 In his insightful book Influence,9 Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University cites this and other studies as evidence that people have a mindless, automatic reciprocity reflex. Like other animals, we will perform certain behaviors when the world presents us with certain patterns of input. A baby herring gull, seeing a red spot on its mother’s beak, pecks at it automatically, and out comes regurgitated food. The baby gull will peck just as vigorously at a red spot painted on the end of a pencil. A cat stalks a mouse using the same low-down, wiggle-close-then-pounce technique used by cats around the world. The cat uses the same technique to attack a string trailing a ball of yarn because the string accidentally activates the cat’s mouse-tail-detector module. Cialdini sees human reciprocity as a similar ethological reflex: a person receives a favor from an acquaintance and wants to repay the favor. The person will even repay an empty favor from a stranger, such as the receipt of a worthless Christmas card.


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Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:18 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
Quote:
Are your motivations absolutely pure, Ant? Don't you get a little something in return? A little social capital, for example. People think highly of you, they are beholden to you to some extent for when you're ready to call in a favor. Haidt begins this chapter by describing a scene from The Godfather that portrays reciprocity in action. In most social situations there are usually strings attached with acts of kindness and we intuitively understand how it all works. Haidt calls this our "ethological reflex."

I've noticed that when I put a dollar in the tip jar, I would rather the barista see me doing it. A pure altruistic act means no one knows that you gave to them. So should I wait until the barista isn't looking and slip in the dollar unnoticed? Would I be a better person for it or is it okay that some of motivation is to ensure continued excellent service next time I visit this coffee shop?


I've thought that myself and could not in all honesty totally deny what you've wrote.

However! The Keurig machine is not close to where I sit, and I have not asked those I have given gift cards anything in return - like, walk with me to get a cup of coffee.

My intention was to spread some good will around a bunch of Monday morning sourpusses :razz2: :P



Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:19 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - Reciprocity with a Vengeance
ant wrote:
My intention was to spread some good will around a bunch of Monday morning sourpusses :razz2: :P


Aha! Ant, you hypocrite! You're just trying to make your Monday work environment more pleasant!

Seriously though the next chapter in Haidt's book deals with hypocrisy.


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Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:23 pm
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