Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tonight you are all going to be part of a *social experiment*.

The "social experiment" that Joker played in the Dark Knight movie reminded me of some game I played about 4 months ago.

My favorite proffesor finished giving his pre-masters lecture material earlier than usual. Then he started by sayin:"Now I have some bonus marks to give any of you. The only condition for taking the bonus is that you agree that others take bonus as well. Otherwise, you will not get it." Sure enough the whole class roared "We all want the bonus. Give it to us". He smiled wickedly. He continued "Now here is the thing. I will divide you into 2 groups. Group A and Group B.Everyone from Group A will take a paper out, write a number from 1 to 10 along with his/her name. This number is the amount of bonus that you want.Now after that I will collect all the papers from group A, then randomly i'll give it to people from group B.Each one from group B will open the paper and see the number. The amount of bonus that he or she gets is the remaining quantity from subtracting 10 from the bonus jotted on the paper. This means that if someone from group A wrote 6, then the member from Group B who will get this paper would get a 4 marks bonus. That is of course if he agreed.But, If he thought that it was not fair and did not agree, then neither him nor the person from group A whose name is written on the paper will get any bonus. " People started laughing. I told him"Then every one will write down a 5. It is fair to both sides." He told me "Oh, you really think so? Someone who would get a paper with an 8 might think a 2 bonus marks is better than nothing.". Someone asked "Are these bonus marks for real?". The doctor answered "Why wouldn't they be?". Silence prevailed the class. People were looking suspiciously to one another as the doctor was dividing us into groups.

I was on group A. I got greedy to tell you the truth. And I knew for a fact that almost anyone from Group B would peacfully agree with whatever they get. They will not compare my bonus to thiers. They would compare thier bonus to a zero bonus. So I wrote an 8.5 on the paper, folded it and gave it to the doctor. Then he distributed the papers among people from Group B. He started collecting the numbers written on the papers and writing them on board. Most of the people wrote a 5, or a 6. There was one 9, two 8.5s, four 8s three 7s and one 2!!

He started getting answers from people of whether or not they would agree to the bonus they and the other person from Group A would get. There were a few jokes and laughs, but there were only 2 people who did not agree to what they would get.The one who got the paper with the 9 and another with an 8.

The doctor started asking questions. He told me for example why did you write an 8.5? Why werent you fair to the other guy as you suggested? I told him, I was willing to take the risk of the other guy agreeing with what they got. After all, a 1.5 is better than a zero. He asked the people from group B who agreed on the 3s and the 2s they got how did they make thier choice when it was seemingly not just to them. They jokingly answered "Howa e7na hantbbatar 3ala el bonus kaman.7add la2y!". He asked those who didn't agree and they normally answered "3allaya w 3ala a3da2y.It was not his right to make the decision in the first place, and I don't care about the bonus as much as i care about being fair."

The doctor then began by saying "I don't understand how people give themselves the right of taking more than they should, and other people who have the right to punish them, let them get away with it!" Ouch. That didn't feel good at all. I kinda knew where he was going from there. And I knew right away that I made an awfully wrong choice and what's worse was the justification I gave for myself and what's even worse was that I was predicted right. I got away with it.I got away with being greedy and not being fair.

He then explained "This is a social exercise by which they test and measure certain cultural paradigms. Instead of bonus marks it is played with money.The more rejections for the un-fair distribution of money, implies a more democratic a society ,and implies that people in that country exercise more freedom and own the right to punish and prosecute the greedy. They have the choice the right of disagreeing. Even if that came with a cost. Even if that meant a loss for them too. This is because preserving justice system more important than who will get what now. Naturally, countries like ours,Rejections tend to be low. Only 2 out of 10 rejected unfairness of what they would get. Also having 10 out of about 30 thinking they can get what they want depending on the others consent indicates major problems in our societies. I think that those who agree with the unfairness happening to them are more guilty that those who practice it. Or at least they are both equally guilty."

Needless to say, People started debating but mostly people were shocked at the implications of the game and everyone was reflective on thier decisions.

It was definitely enlightening.


jessyz said...

This is such a super idea.

Frustrated said...

What do you expect the results of such similar experiments in Egypt? If this is influenced by our social background!! Ahhhhhhhhh

marooned84 said...

you professor is a very smart man!

gjoe said...

Jessyz: I know!! If I had a chance, I would do it someday.

Frustrated: mahy deh el moseeba, ennaha expected results: 3ady ya3ny.

Marooned: He is my all-time favorite!