Scientists have measured the threshold of sensitivity of Russians to injustice


We are all familiar with the situation when we see from the outside the obvious injustice of some in relation to others. For example, a fight in which the strong beat the weak. One passer-by in this situation immediately rushes to help, the other empathizes, but from the outside, the third, unfortunately, passes by indifferently. Scientists decided to find out what the differences in our reactions depend on, what happens in our brain when we see injustice, and where is the threshold of sensitivity, after which we will still be ready to leave our own comfort zone in order to establish justice.

Modern theories of social structure say that the basis of society is still the principle of cooperation. It manifests itself in the establishment of norms and rules to maintain order in the team. At the same time, it is important for people not only to follow the rules themselves, but also to monitor whether other members of the group follow them. And if they do not comply, then the “mechanism of justice” requires intervening and punishing the violator.

For the experiment, which involved two dozen participants, the Dictator game was used. Its essence lies in the fact that one of the three players, actually the “dictator”, is given a certain amount of money, which he divides at his own discretion between himself and the second participant, the “victim”. The “victim” has a passive role and accepts the amount allocated to him by the “dictator”. The third player (the experiment was designed for him) at the beginning of the game also receives a certain amount of money. However, to the extent that the “dictator” treats the “victim” fairly or not (divides the money equally or takes most of it for himself), a third participant can intervene in the situation and punish the offender. Only in this case, having established justice, according to the rules of the game, he loses part of his money.

The authors of the study introduced a gradation of violations – from very unfair to conditionally unfair. The severity of the punishment (the number of spent game points, or the money of the subject), respectively, could also be ranked depending on the decision of the “arbitrator”. In parallel, the subjects were given an electroencephalogram and measured brain signals in response to disturbances.

The signal in the mid-frontal zone of the brain turned out to be the stronger, the more severe the violation appeared before the person, – says one of the authors of the work, senior researcher at the institute Oksana Zinchenko. – Conversely, the picture was not so clear in the case of conditionally unfair distribution.

Scientists, according to Zinchenko, found that in the second, “mild” version of injustice, only 30% of the subjects decided to punish the “dictator”, already 80% reacted to a more rude dictatorship, but 20%, alas, remained almost indifferent to any of its manifestations.

This led scientists to the fact that different people may have different attitudes to the violation of social norms, depending on the degree of their individual sensitivity. If this dependence lies in our brain, then, according to Oksana Zinchenko, it can be assumed that a certain area of ​​the brain responsible for our reactions can be learned to influence from the outside with special currents. That is, we can train our responsiveness! This, above all, could serve well for patients with autism who lack empathy and compassion.

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