Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Power and corruption may be good for society

Date:
December 15, 2010
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
An evolutionary biology professor found that power and corruption may play a role in maintaining overall societal cooperation.

They are familiar scenes: politicians bemoaning the death of family values only for extramarital affairs to be unveiled or politicians preaching financial sacrifice while their expense accounts fatten up. Moral corruption and power asymmetries are pervasive in human societies, but as it turns out, that may not be such a bad thing.

Related Articles


Francisco Úbeda, an evolutionary biology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Edgar Duéñez of Harvard University found that power and corruption may play a role in maintaining overall societal cooperation.

A report of their research is published in the journal Evolution.

Using game theory, Úbeda and Duéñez looked at what causes individuals in society to cooperate even though those in charge display some level of corruption. They developed a model that allows individuals who are responsible for punishing noncooperators (e.g., law enforcers and government officials) to fail to cooperate themselves by acting in a corrupt manner. They also considered the possibility that these law enforcers, by virtue of their positions, are able to sidestep punishment when they are caught failing to cooperate.

What they found is that the bulk of society cooperates because there are law enforcers forcing them to stay in line. People tend to cooperate because they do not want to get punished.

Even if the law enforcers consider themselves above the law and behave in a corrupt way, overall societal cooperation is maintained -- as long as there is a small amount of power and corruption. However, if the law enforcers have too much power and corruption runs rampant, overall societal cooperation breaks down.

Úbeda explained how it works: "Law enforcers often enjoy privileges that allow them to avoid the full force of the law when they breach it. Law enforcing results in the general public abiding by the law. Thus law enforcers enjoy the benefits of a lawful society and are compensated for their law enforcing by being able to dodge the law," he said.

The researchers concluded that power and corruption benefit society; without law enforcers, individuals have less incentive to cooperate and without power and corruption, law enforcers have less incentive to do their job.

The researchers' findings have far-reaching implications. In biology, they may help explain corrupt behaviors in social insects. In economics, the findings may aid in formulating policies by providing insights on how to harness corruption to benefit society. In the field of psychology, the findings provide a justification to the correlation between power and corruption observed in humans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Francisco Úbeda, Andy Gardner. A Model for Genomic Imprinting in the Social Brain: Adults. Evolution, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01115.x

Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Power and corruption may be good for society." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214181934.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2010, December 15). Power and corruption may be good for society. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214181934.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Power and corruption may be good for society." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214181934.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins