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Forum Post: Greed IS a Learned Behavior!

Posted 9 years ago on April 6, 2012, 10:42 a.m. EST by shoozTroll (17632)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

For those that like to think being selfish is a natural condition.

Think again. More studies every day say YOU are incorrect.


Could this be yet another reason selfish conse(R)vatives are losing faith in science?




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[-] 5 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Thanx mate for this forum-post and am just copying the short piece from your first link : http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=baby-justice , below in its entirety ;


Infants Possess a Sense of Justice ; Infants may understand fairness and sharing earlier than expected, by Lena Groeger, | April 6, 2012 |.

"Well before “not fair!” becomes a staple phrase of your child’s spoken repertoire, he or she might already have a fundamental grasp of right and wrong. A study published last October in PLoS One found that 15-month-old infants could identify unequal distributions of food and drink and that this sense of fairness was connected to their own willingness to share.

To measure these moral sentiments, researchers first had the children watch movies of an actor distributing food, either equally or unequally, between two people. Most of the toddlers spent more time looking at the unequal outcome, suggesting it surprised them by violating their basic sense of fair­ness. Next, every child picked his or her favorite of two new toys, and the researchers then asked the kids to share one of the toys. Of the infants who shared their favorite toy, 92 percent had also been surprised by the unfair outcome in the videos.

Scientists have typically thought that other-regarding preferences—which may have played an important role in the evolutionary history of human cooperation—emerge in early or mid-childhood, around the ages of seven or eight. This study suggests that they may develop as early as the second year of life and that those early moral judgments and behaviors are more closely intertwined than ever expected."


Furthermore your second link is really very alarming - and also rather revealing !!!

Finally, I attach the following slightly disturbing recent article, which is pertinent I feel - from a broader perspective, to the subject matter of your post :

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 9 years ago

If you can't think smart, try and make everyone else dumber?

Sounds exactly like conse(R)vative thinking.......LOL

[-] 3 points by chell9 (5) 9 years ago

An amusing abstract: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453012000546

Referred to oxytocin below, and this abstract does as well. You know any nursing mom could tell you that oxytocin is a 'feel-good' hormone. It is released as your milk 'lets down' to feed your baby. Now understanding vasopressin should be fairly intuitive. We know that our circulatory system is implied in the 'vaso' part..and a pressor, supresses. So this abstract is amusing for me, in that it seems obvious what the results would be. Anytime you dampen circulatory response, you impair the body's ability to transmit the effects of hormones released by behavior.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

A movie that backs what I'm saying here.............:)

[-] 2 points by ComeTogetherNOW (650) 9 years ago

"Selection between whole groups. Darwin said natural selection happens between individuals. But what about selection between communities (and herds and flocks)? This issue is so hot, arguments between sober academics almost read like kids having tantrums. The point is this: if there is competition between groups (communities) for survival, the winning group will be stronger because of teamwork, which takes something like cooperation or altruism between members. A group of only selfish individuals is weakened from within."


Yes, selfish groups. I think we all heard of this one before. So we usually are not selfish to such extent that we only care about our self only. That's very extreme and doesn't play out in reality very often. We're too clever for that.

I just want to know what to do get in the Rich Folks Club. I needa needa it!

The selfish gene just wants to survive, and live! That's A L L

[-] 2 points by richardkentgates (3269) 9 years ago

Totally true.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 9 years ago

The first article isn't very surprising, the second article, however, I think requires more thoughtful analysis. Why are conservatives, particularly educated conservatives, losing faith in science? According to the article it's because science is being used to justify government regulations.

I'm not sure if this should give liberals reason to celebrate (or give liberals an enhanced sense of validation). This shows that conservatives feel a sense of disenfranchisement, but it's a different sort of disenfranchisement compared to that felt by the poor (or those we would traditionally identify as disenfranchised).

This suggests that many people feel disconnected from government, a natural consequence of lack of participation in democracy. So really, I think this shows a potential commonality among groups of people where commonality hasn't traditionally existed (or maybe it has always existed, but it just hasn't been recognized as a commonality).

Conservatives tend to distrust government, okay, no surprise (but OWS isn't exactly a movement dominated by people who trust government all that much), and so this is a commonality. The scientific method has traditionally been viewed as something that is impermeable to corruption by special interest influence (or at least more impermeable compared to most other things); but the idea that government could try to exploit, and even manipulate science for its own ends, isn't exactly an unreasonable view.

I mean, ideally, we should be looking for things we have in common, not things that further divide us. Of course we should defend science, but that also implies we need to protect it from corrupt influence (and the perception of corrupt influence, which could be just as damaging).

[-] 1 points by Anti385 (58) 9 years ago

"but the idea that government could try to exploit, and even manipulate science for its own ends, isn't exactly an unreasonable view."

I don't see how. Science is about solid factual understanding of everything around us. It is not without evidence like religion or 'magic'. Explain to me how can the government manipulate science for its own ends.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 9 years ago

The story of LFNR is an example of this, but it's more often done by corporations.


[-] 0 points by XenuLives (1645) from Charlotte, NC 9 years ago

Nice thread. Interesting info on this one.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 9 years ago

Greed is an illness and should be treated as such.

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 9 years ago

"may have", "suggests that", what a ridiculous "study". It "suggests" to me that the babies like watching unequal outcomes more. Then, when they're told to share, and they do, a stupid correlation was made with how many watched the unequal outcomes. Didn't say how many shared when told to do so, just "of the ones who did, 92% also watched the unequal video. Seriously, you could make these "studies" say anything you want, or what you are predisposed to believe.

[-] 3 points by chell9 (5) 9 years ago

Okay, you don't like the "ridiculous" 'study'.. How about some others that link altruistic behavior to oxytocin. Surely you know oxytocin? It is only one of the major hormones in all of our bodies; most people relate it to female reproduction, but it is actually a neuromodulator for all of us. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/328/5984/1408.short

A Howard University professor's take on the corrosive effects of greed, (abstract at link, pdf from there if you want to read it): http://jhv.sagepub.com/content/16/2/187.short

A study which associates dopamine with altruism: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/6/5/662.full

Link to a book worth reading about altruism and evolution: http://www.manz.at/list.html?inline=1&back=16d610a6d3607f01407b951c44eec41a&isbn=978-1-4419-9519-3&xid=2299793&page=1

Also..look to Stanley Rice, an evolutionary biologist. He has a website, a blog and more than a few books out there. He often cites Lynn Margulis and her work with the mitochondria, (another evolutionary biologist, now deceased,) in establishing it's origins as an organism in it's own right. You see..we are, at the basic biological component of our bodies; our cells, symbiotic beings..and do some research yourself. If nothing else, consider this: how do you feel when you assist another human being? That feeling is the result of endorphins.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 9 years ago

The bulk of the studies and research indicate that selfishness and greed are learned behaviors.

I have yet to see one that strongly indicate otherwise, but I'm sure some will argue against it anyway.......................LOL

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 9 years ago

I feel the same way when I buy a new TV or eat a nice meal. Anyway, the feeling you get from helping someone else has sort of a law of diminishing returns. The more you help them, the less good you start to feel.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

What is your evidence for this ASSertion ?!

IF you believe that the "law of diminishing returns" applies to Care, Compassion, Mercy and LOVE - then you are in all probability a 'Misanthropic Randian Psychopath' - so little or nothing I can say will penetrate your heart but reflect upon : "Love Shared is Love Multiplied" !!!

pax, AMOR et lux ...

[-] -1 points by gforz (-43) 9 years ago

I would qualify my statement, and distinguish between voluntary and involuntary help. The law of diminishing returns applies to involuntary help, where you are forced to "help". Do you feel better when you help your mom clean the house voluntarily or when she orders you to do it? Do you feel better when you give your neighbor a gallon of milk or when they show up on your door every week asking for something new? Do you feel better when you let your kid come back and live with you for a while after college while getting a job, or when you let them stay for 5 years, eat your food, contribute nothing, and watch TV all day? In all cases, you are "helping" someone. There's a difference. I have a good heart, but like others, you'd like to take advantage of that and force all of us to "feel good".

[-] 1 points by bymel (1) 7 years ago

all this says to me is-it depends on the person-their own definition of help whether they think of it as being forced or not too! mom could "order" me to help clean but if i thought-ah she's ordering me because she "needs" help, then i'm glad to help her! or if i think she's bothering me since she "never" cleans and i've already cleaned 10 times today, then no it doesn't seem like you'd feel good about that, even tho how your mom sees it might be totally different, like she's worked her whole life/given birth to you-she thinks she shouldn't even have to ask you to help clean. therefor this leads to a realization that all those scenarios are "learned", or perceived reality. so maybe your neighbor doesn't need a milk, maybe they need companionship but don't know how to ask for it...and maybe the parent feels good about being able to provide their kid with that lifestyle they wish they themselves had had...all the same cases just perceived or learned to be viewed in a different way, as to have a more optimistic outlook on life. ya i think it would be awesome if someone could take advantage of that and force all to be helpful/feel good!! :) and i agree(shadz66) about the "law of diminishing returns" thing, if this is how one feels they must have an emotional disorder-depression, psychopath, personality disorder? whatever. personally when depressed even if i try to help or do help someone, i get no pleasure but ONLY because a depressed person doesn't have the ability to feel pleasure....


[-] -2 points by Durvasa (-4) from Davie, FL 7 years ago

yes very good.

greed- inspired by EVOLUTION and reinforced by society!

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Would you like to explain how your comment has anything to do with the information given?

Sounds like something you just made up.

[-] -1 points by Durvasa (-4) from Davie, FL 7 years ago

I guess i gotta speak like a layman around here. Everything is a learned behavior DICK! I was merely agreeing with you. i was also pointing out that GREED arose through evolutionary adaptation or cognitive ecology theory out of necessity. Humans have selected greed to continue and it has spiraled out of control.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Everything you've ever learned, you've learned from your DICK!

now you make sense.

[-] 2 points by bullfrogma (448) 7 years ago

Oh man, not this again. This is semantics. Do you understand that we completely made up the word greed? What is that word? It describes an overdevelopedness of something that is inside every single animal, not excluding people. Yes, we learn to be more greedy. And yes, people can understand things. People are in fact amazing creatures.

There's an idea that i really like about how nature doesn't face you, that nature doesn't glorify your existence in any way. Yet we have created a society full of signs and slogans, constantly pointing at us with recognition, and with a carrot and desire at every turn. Our sense of self and ego is constantly being stimulated, all the time, all for you, yes you, you.

This is different then just being faced by other people because meeting other people isn't just about you. Commercialism is doing a lot of damage. And maybe our breakdown of community also lends to greed because it renders people in more of a survival mode.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Your brain is semantics.

We made up all of our words.

Commercialism describes.....privatization.

Guess who considers privatization a primary platform?

[-] 0 points by bullfrogma (448) 7 years ago

Just saying that greed isn't learned, it's stimulated from our core programming.

Call that learning if you want, but you have to admit where it comes from. The only evidence you've been able to show that greed is entirely learned was a joke, and you almost always defend your opinions by talking shit about people. Unless you have something constructive to say, enough with trying to argue the origin of greed.

It's both, and if we forget what we're made of, this can sneak up and surprise us.

[-] -1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

You were programmed?

How unfortunate.

That would however, explain your, on off, black or white thinking.

[-] -1 points by Durvasa (-4) from Davie, FL 7 years ago