Every decision pitted efficiency (the total number of meals given) against equity (how much the burden of lost meals was shared among the children).What's interesting is that these experiments showed that people, generally, value equity over efficiency. This is not the kind of finding that those in favor of markets and competition over all like to hear (and will further exacerbate the conservative aversion to science).
One could choose to take 15 meals from a single child, for example, or 13 meals from one child and five from another. In the first option the total number of meals lost would be lower. Efficiency would be preserved, but one child would bear the brunt of all the cuts. In the second option more children would share the burden of lost meals but more meals would be lost. The equity was better -- but at a cost to efficiency.
"This dilemma illustrates the core issues of distributive justice, which involves tradeoffs between considerations that are at once compelling but which cannot be simultaneously satisfied," the authors wrote. - ScienceDaily
In these trails, subjects overwhelmingly chose to preserve equity at the expense of efficiency, Hsu said. "They were all quite inequity averse." The findings support other studies that show that most people are fairly intolerant of inequity. - ScienceDailyWhat's interesting is that this study of the brain corroborates some elements of an economic study from last year, which showed that people were willing to be taxed (to a certain degree) to acheieve greater income equality.
Applying their model to pre-existing survey data, the authors found that, on average, people are willing to sacrifice about 20 percent of their disposable income to live in an equitable society - but they also found that the value a person places on equity is substantially affected by their race and educational background. - ScienceDailyIt just goes to show that in circumstances absent interference, people prefer justice and equity, not competition and inequity.