Mailbag: Easier to receive than to give

less than 1 minute read

With reference to “We have ways of changing behavior”, a reader writes:

One thing anthropologists may want to study is the consequences of the fact that wheras it's usually much more efficient to change behavior by positive reinforcement, societies tend to favor either negative reinforcement or punishment.

Yes, I think that’s very interesting isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because resources are usually limited? Easier to receive than to give. We tend to concentrate positive reinforcement on kin, which takes some of the pain away from resource transfer.