Can Good Rules Instill ‘Habits of Virtue’?

Rules that encourage cooperative behavior lead people to develop altruistic responses even in new contexts, a new Yale-led research found. This spillover effect suggests it is possible for organizations or even entire cultures to foster “habits of virtue,” said David Rand, senior author of the paper appearing in the journal Management Science. Using experiments inspired by game theory, the researchers found that “people are more cooperative, trusting, and altruistic, and are even more willing to punish selfishness” after interacting under rules that are rigged to reward prosocial behavior, Rand said.

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