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Fairness is emotionally rewarding, a study finds

Fairness is emotionally rewarding, a study finds – Los Angeles Times

Linked above is an article on another interesting study on how we are neurologically wired about money issues. The research was done at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior to measure how our brains react to financial situations that would be considered “fair” or “unfair”. Side note: I was told many years ago the personal definition of “not fair” was not getting what you wanted. The research showed that getting a fair deal stimulated the same parts of the brain as do earning money and looking at attractive people.

I found the method and results of the study very interesting. Students were offered a split of found money, $10. Those who were offered $5 registered a fair reaction in their brain activity and took their split. Of those who were offered a $2 share 50% registered neural activity signalling disgust and refused the money. The other 50% took the money but did not show “fairness” brain activity. I find it interesting so many refused free money because they believed the deal to be unfair.

So how does that affect us? It appears that fairness in a financial transaction affect us as strongly as the actual financial figures. I sold cars and trucks for several years and it was well known by salespeople that the happiest buyers were usually the ones the salesperson made the most profit and commission on. Buyers who felt they were getting a too high or an unfair price usually were getting a very good deal, but little the salesperson or dealership could do would convince them of that. We all want to feel like we got a fair deal, but each person’s perception of fair is different and may be quite skewed from reality.

This study shows me that it is difficult for us to stay rational about big financial purchases, such as cars, homes or engagement rings. Some research before we go to make our purchases may give us a better framework where the fair price lies and allow us to make a rational purchase and feel we were treated fairly in the transaction.

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