The Neuroscience of Fairness and Injustice
How Our Brains Are Wired to Resist Unfair Treatment
Humans are inherently social beings. We care not only about material and financial rewards, but also about social status, belonging, and respect. Research studies show that our brains automatically evaluate the fairness of how financial rewards are distributed. We seem to have a happiness response to fair treatment and a disgust or protest response to unfairness. Thisbrain wiring has implications for life happiness, relationship satisfaction, raising kids, and organizational leadership. This article will examine how we define fairness, how your brain processes experiences of fairness and unfairness, and how to cope with life’s unfair moments..
An addendum to this should be that we resist what we each and all define as injustice, unfairness, and tyranny. The definition of these things are objectively subjective, which is how we get differences of opinion and belief. However, there are some things that are common to us all, and one has to wonder at the definitions of some other people, as to whether or not their definitions match up with what the collective actually is feeling.
For example, conservatives and Libertarians can be living in absolute poverty, and think it unfair that richer people be taxed more to help raise them out of poverty. Economically, it’s impossible to lift oneself up by your own bootstraps alone, without someone providing you boots to do so. You can’t get something from nothing, and that’s what some conservatives and Libertarians have. So, not only are they incorrect about how the economy works, but they’re also advocating policy that many more of us would find unjust and unfair when phrased explicitly and honestly to the public. You can change people’s stated opinions through manipulation of the question phrases. However, you usually can’t and don’t change the deep, complicated sentiments that most people have without having some kind of “aha” moment that is endogenous to themselves. Enlightenment is not a gift that can be given. It has to be produced from within you based on your actions, attitudes, behaviors, and experiences.
Therefore, it is primarily through this confusion of fact and manipulation of phrasing, ignorance, and plain callousness that we get differing opinions as to what fair is in many cases. Some variety is ok. However, the extremes of difference that we’re experiencing do not reflect the common reality in which we are living. The actual consequences that are realized from the conservative and Libertarian approach would not be supported by the majority opinion (when asked honestly and explicitly) because most of us have a different and more accurate understanding of fairness. Quite frankly, I don’t know how it is that we spend so much time caught up with individuals who don’t know, don’t care to know, and refuse to accept the common reality around them for the sake of a presupposed, manufactured and highly inaccurate perception of the world, with the unworkable and unjust opinions and conclusions that follow from their distorted view of the world. It’s time that we ideologically ditch all ideologies, ideologues, and people whose opinions don’t match the common reality; people who refuse to accept the common reality, even when it is clearly presented to them. They will get us killed, in the long term, because they are like bats who do not have properly functioning echo location senses. They will fly us all into trees, into water, into the ground, or into some hungry predator’s mouth, because they’ve presupposed the reality and are dug into those presuppositions, rather than attentive to the reality itself that is around them.
I don’t want to die because of these people. Do you?