Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm doing business outside...

From now on.
Economists use a game of trust to reveal our moral intuitions. Person A and Person B are both given £12. Person A is the depositor, Person B the trustee. Person A can choose how much to deposit with Person B: nothing, £4, £8 or £12. When the money is transferred it immediately triples in value. Thus, if Person A gives Person B £8, she is left with £4, while Person B now has 3×8 + 12 = £36. Person B can then choose to give as much back to Person A as he thinks appropriate. If he were to give back £20, say, he would still be left with more than he began. But he could hand over all £36 or nothing at all.
This game has been used to show that humans are not entirely rationally self-interested. But for our purposes what is interesting is this: when subjects are given the hormone oxytocin they are more likely to hand over a larger share of their money, exhibiting greater trust that the other person will treat them fairly. Boosting oxytocin levels is not a high-tech procedure; the hormone can be delivered by nasal spray. Trust is central to our personal and business relationships, and altering trust levels could alter society in a profound way.  Enhancement is not identical to improvement. Pumping oxytocin through the air-conditioning could be used for less noble purposes: companies manipulating their consumers, politicians their voters, or predatory men their dates. [More] [My emphasis]

We think stuff like this is way in the future, but I'm not so sure.  One possible consequence of health cost reform and lower drug profits could be the intensified search for non-medical markets.  Enhancement would seem to be a logical area to add revenues.

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