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How Our Sense of Fairness May Be Affected By Our Brain Chemistry


Narrator:        This is Science Today. A sense of fairness is usually considered a subjective state that's based on one's character and experience. But a UCLA study has found that neurotransmitters in the brain may affect our sense of fairness. Matthew Lieberman, an associate professor of psychology and founder of social cognitive neuroscience, led a study that involved a game in which participants were offered money and those with low serotonin levels were more sensitive to being treated unfairly.

Lieberman:     If you were given an unfair offer, you were much more likely to reject it if your serotonin levels had been depleted.

Narrator:        Lieberman says this study provides insight for those who are in positions to be treating others fairly or unfairly and to understand the perspective that the other person may have.

Lieberman:     And also when we ourselves feel like we'd been treated unfairly, I think it's a useful thing to notice that the other person may not have intended us to perceive it that way and that again, it may be a part of how we're constructing the world based on what's going on in our brains.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.