One of the most counter intuitive ideas that flourished in modern psychological experimentation is that people do not respond as strongly to economic incentives and other non-economic . That does not mean that science has discovered that money is not important, but not so much as we thought. Or it is not many situations.
In addition, we must start preparing for a new world in which most of the things we do will not be in exchange for money and where most things we acquire will be free.
A case study: donate blood
Most blood donors in the United States, until recently, received financial compensation in return for their gesture , paid by profit and non profit. In Europe it is a lesser known phenomenon. For example, in Britain donations are organized through the National Health Service and voluntary, without any compensation.
The sociologist Richard Titmuss compared both systems and discovered that the blood of the British system was of higher quality (meno probability that the receiver contrajese hepatitis), less blood is wasted and there was less general shortage in hospitals. Not to mention that there may be a moral issue when wealthier explore the needy through their fluids or organs.
Many economists denied that this was possible. While American system worked worst, it could not be simply because it is economically pays the donor. Kenneth Arrow , Nobel laureate in economics, for example, admitted that some people respond better to moral incentives, but many others only respond to change money.
Despite objections, the tests are imposed, the United States adopted the system of voluntary unpaid donations and donors were more altruistic, though descended a few paid donors, as explained byYochai Benkler in his book The Penguin and the Leviathan :
Once material incentives disappeared, donations increased in quality and quantity, and the whole system work more stably and effectively than it had before. (…) A shocking study conducted recently in Sweden, where historically there is a system of voluntary donation, donations showed that women decreased considerably if offered a payment in exchange for the donation of blood, while it It did not happen in the case of men. Donations of women returned to the original level when given the opportunity to hand over the money received to a foundation dedicated to fighting child health problems.
The discussion about which system is more effective continues today , because maybe there is some variable we do not have in mind that favoring one system over another irrespective of whether it is paid or not blood. But what seems clear is that is not as clear as we had always believed that money provides a greater involvement of people in a cause and donate blood (and many others).
It seems that besides the desire for money, there are other motivations such as emotional needs, motivations and social connections and moral commitments. All these forces pull by independent sides , sometimes in conflict with each other.
Economists Bruno Frey and Samuel Bowles, and psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan have analyzed similar experiments to evaluate this phenomenon in various settings and in many different fields. The results are quite clear and convincing. (…) We know from hundreds of experimental studies in a given situation, it is expected that half of the population behave cooperatively and generously, and a third of the population do it selfishly. Therefore, what we really need we are systems that use both social motivations as selfish, while avoiding the latter exclude the first.