When people act against their self-interest I see a flashing neon sign: Interesting Psychology Here! Consider how people respond to the Affordable Care Act (and indulge me by forgetting all wonkish policy concerns). What we so far see is a lack of widespread enthusiasm—extending all the way to blind rage and outright hatred for “Obamacare”—from many who would benefit from its full implementation. Reason suggests redistributing medical resources so that those who need get would be celebrated by those who will have easier access. But that’s not the case. Why? Part of the answer can be found in new research showing how politicians can exploit the idea of choice to pick our pockets.
Previous research (2001) by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely “observed a surprising level of consensus: All demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.” They go on to ask “why are more Americans, especially those with low income, not advocating for greater redistribution of wealth?” (quotes from Building a Better America−−One Wealth Quintile at a Time).
A partial answer has now been found in an elegant series of six well-controlled experiments just this week published online in the prestigious journal Psychological Science titled “A Choice Mind-Set Increases the Acceptance and Maintenance of Wealth Inequality” by Krishna Savani and Aneeta Rattan of the Management Division, Columbia Business School, and the Department of Psychology, Stanford University. And the answer they provide for why people sometimes act against their economic self-interest is the idea of choice.
Read the whole story: Forbes