WASHINGTON (AP): When it comes to justice and privilege, a new study finds that it's really not about how you play the game. It's about winning or losing.
A new experiment, played as a card game, shows that even when the cover is stacked literally in favor of people, and they know it, most winners still think it's fair anyway. Los perdedores no, according to a study by the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.
The study "tells us something about privileges and society," said sociologist Bates College, Emily Kane, who was not part of the investigation. "He reminds us of the importance of perceptions, not only what happens, but what we think is happening," he wrote in an email.
The research shows how people who have benefits in life can give too much credit to explaining how they arrived so far, Kane said.
It all started when some graduate students in sociology at Cornell University were playing a card game that rewards someone who has already won. Principal author of the study, Mario D. Molina, noticed that the people who won, because the rules benefited them, thought it was their ability, when most were not.
Therefore, Molina and his teammates created their own game that could randomly remove as much as possible and awarded the winners by letting them discard their worst cards and get the best cards from the losers. Almost 1,000 players showed how they worked and how they played the game to help the winners.
The players asked whether the game was fair, based on luck or skill. Molina said that 60% of the winners believed that the game was fair, compared with 30% of the losers. And when it was about explaining who won, the winners had attributed it to talent three times more often than the losers.
Once the party became even more unfair, with a second round of card exchanges to further benefit the winners, many less winners thought the game was fair. Molina called this "Warren Buffett effect," after the billionaire who asked for higher taxes for the rich could match the pitch.
Molina said that this is just a game and pointed out that the players were younger, more white and richer than the United States as a whole; Using these results to explain society more widely could be too important. However, he said that it is useful to think of an economic privilege.
The main message of the study was pessimistic, said Eliot Smith, a professor of brain sciences at the University of Indiana, who was not involved in the investigation: people have problems in making moral judgments about equity when it benefits them .
Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears .
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This story has been corrected to show that Eliot Smith is a professor of brain sciences at the University of Indiana, not a sociologist at the University of Indiana.