Authors
Bjørn Hallsson
University of Copenhagen
Abstract
Fairness, the notion that people deserve or have rights to certain resources or kinds of treatment, is a fundamental dimension of moral cognition. Drawing on recent evidence from economics, psychology, and neuroscience, we ask whether self-interest is always intuitive, requiring self-control to override with reasoning-based fairness concerns, or whether fairness itself can be intuitive. While we find strong support for rejecting the notion that self-interest is always intuitive, the literature has reached conflicting conclusions about the neurocognitive systems underpinning fairness. We propose that this disagreement can largely be resolved in light of an extended Social Heuristics Hypothesis. Divergent findings may be attributed to the interpretation of behavioral effects of ego depletion or neurostimulation, reverse inference from brain activity to the underlying psychological process, and insensitivity to social context and inter-individual differences. To better dissect the neurobiological basis of fairness, we outline how future research should embrace cross-disciplinary methods that combine psychological manipulations with neuroimaging, and that can probe inter-individual, and cultural heterogeneities.
Keywords Fairness  Dual process theory
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