Azara Blog: Surprise, relative pay matters to people

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Date published: 2007/11/23

The BBC says:

On receiving a paypacket, how good a man feels depends on how much his colleague earns in comparison, scientists say.

Scans reveal that being paid more than a co-worker stimulates the "reward centre" in the male brain.

Traditional economic theory assumes the only important factor is the absolute size of the reward.
In the study, 38 pairs of male volunteers were asked to perform the same simple task simultaneously, and promised payment for success.

Does "traditional economic theory" really assume that only absolute size matters? (It's pretty trivially obvious to anyone who lives in the real world that relative sucess matters as well.) Does anyone think that women are any different than men? (Why limit this study to men?) Does anyone believe that you should take an indirect, non-real-world, analysis involving a few dozen men and construct a (any) grand philosophy of the universe? (It's an unfortunate tendency amongst scientists and/or journals wanting to publicise their papers to claim great things when they have examined only an epsilon of evidence.)

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