The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘individualism’

Team-Interested Decision Making

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 1, 2008

Taking one for the team - by FarlaneFrom Science Daily, here’s a brief research summary regarding how, even in individualistic cultures, team goals often trump individual goals.

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People act in their own best interests, according to traditional views of how and why we make the decisions that we do. However, psychologists at the Universities of Leicester and Exeter have recently found evidence that this assumption is not necessarily true. In fact the research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, shows that most of us will act in the best interest of our team — often at our own expense.

Psychologists carried out the first systematic tests of team reasoning theories by assessing two well known views of how people behave. Orthodox or classical game predicts that people will act for selfish reasons. Team reasoning theory suggests individual self-interest is not always foremost in the way people act as they will act in the best interest of their “team.”

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Colman, of the University of Leicester School of Psychology, said: “We have shown that, in some circumstances, decision makers cooperate in their collective interests rather than following the purely selfish predictions of orthodox game theory.

“We carried out two experiments designed to test classical game theory against theories of team reasoning developed in the 1990s by British game theorists. According to classical game theory, decision makers invariably act in their individual self-interest . . . .

“Theories of team reasoning were developed to explain why, in some circumstances, people seem to act not in their individual self-interest but in the interest of their families, companies, departments, or the religious, ethnic, or national groups with which they identify themselves.”

Professor Colman is delighted with the results. He said: “Team reasoning is a familiar process, but it is inexplicable within the framework of orthodox game theory. Our findings show for the first time that it predicts decision making more powerfully than orthodox game theory in some games.”

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The results will be published within the next few months in the journal Acta Psychologica . . . .

Posted in Abstracts, Behavioral Economics, Ideology, Social Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ayn Rand’s Dispositionism: The Situation of Ideas

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 10, 2008

Atlas ShruggedLast week Clark Davis had a piece titled “Ayn Rand Studies on Campus,” on NPR’s Morning Edition, May 6, 2008. The story illustrates one of the many ways in which dispositionism is promoted (and, by implication, situationism is undermined).

To listen to the story (roughly 4 minutes), click here. We have excerpted portions of the transcript below and added two videos (the first and second parts) of a remarkable Dan Rather interview of Ayn Rand.

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John Allison, CEO of banking giant BB&T, calls Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged “the best defense of capitalism ever written.” He says that Rand changed his life, and he’s working to ensure that the deceased author isn’t left out of the nation’s college curricula.

Since 2005, the BB&T Charitable Foundation has given 25 colleges and universities several million dollars to start programs devoted to the study of Rand’s books and economic philosophy. In January, the company announced it was donating $1 million to Marshall University in West Virginia.

Atlas ShruggedThe money would establish a course dedicated to Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, and help create the BB&T Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism on campus.

But not everyone at the university is excited by the gift. Rick Wilson, a sociology instructor at Marshall and head of the West Virginia Economic Justice Project, says that Rand’s philosophy, objectivism, is based on the view that selfishness is the only moral value.

“[Objectivism] goes against the collective wisdom of the human race, I think, pretty much everywhere,” says Wilson. “I think it’s a curious interpretation of philanthropy to use corporate money to promote, really, an extreme philosophy.”

Two years ago, faculty at Meredith College in North Carolina rejected a $420,000 grant from BB&T, citing concerns about allowing a corporation to develop curricula.

But Marshall professor Cal Kent, who is slated to direct the center funded by the grant, says BB&T officials just want to give students an additional perspective on capitalism.

“In my experience you’re not able to propagandize students,” says Kent. “Certainly that’s not our intent in this course, and if it were our intent, we would be doomed for failure from the beginning.”

Kent adds that Rand’s philosophy isn’t as scary as some of her detractors insist.

“It’s based on the idea of individualism,” he says. “That means the freedom of individuals to contract with other people, the freedom to choose their occupation, the freedom to do what they see as being in their own best self interest with the resources they have.”

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To read a related Situationist post, see “Deep Capture – Part X.”

Posted in Book, Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Education, Ideology, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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