Altruistic twist in market economies

12:46pm, March 10, 2008

Democratic societies with market economies have a reputation as cauldrons of competition, materialism, and greed. There's another side to that coin, though. These societies also foster cooperation among strangers in order to achieve a common financial goal, say economist Benedikt Herrmann of the University of Nottingham, England, and his colleagues.

In contrast, nondemocratic and other societies without market economies—marked by low civic involvement and distrust of public authorities—promote an ethic of punishing strangers who demand cooperation in a joint economic effort, Herrmann's group reports in the March 7 Science.

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