the dorsal striatum and the prisoner's dilemma

As far as I know, researchers in neurology and the game theory types aren't talking much to one another, which is a shame. I have in hand a fascinating article called "The Neural Basis of Altruistic Punishment" that is causing me to rethink many of my assumptions about how to apply the Prisoner's Dilemma in my daily business life.

The gist of this article, which can be found readily in full text on the Web, is that people derive a sense of satisfaction that can be empirically observed and measured in the dorsal striatum from punishing violations of social norms. This sense of satisfaction can seem more desirable than avoiding economic costs. I am tired enough tonight that the deeper implications of this seem too obvious to explain.

It also makes me wonder if the converse is also true. Do we derive a sense of dissatisfaction from observing violations of social norms that we are unable to punish? This might explain why I've never really liked Rigoletto.


Adiv said...

Maybe, but you need to be more specific than "social norms."

I f you're asking if people receive please from seeing justice served upon people who hurt others, than yes, I think that there is a degree of satisfaction.

If social norms is taken more broadly, than "social norms" are violated everytime a teenager tries to be unique, a homosexual flaunts his/her differentness or an activist uses a crazy stunt (like streaking the academy awards) to bring attention to a cause. These acts usual don't involve harm to others and so I think that punishing them would not create the same level of satisfaction...unless the person feeling the satisfaction is cruel and/or saidistic.

the goddess said...

Hmmmm. "Social norms" was the term used in the abstract of the article. I was trying to summarize it as the researchers did. So I'm not sure if your dispute is with me...or with the research.