Relative Position

We are social creatures; our satisfaction is largely determined by how we stack up relative to others. People make seemingly irrational choices when given the following two scenarios. Imagine being in line, with a chance of receiving cash when you reach a counter. In one scenario, you get $100. In another, you get $150 but the person ahead of you gets $1000. Most people prefer to be in the first scenario even though they end up with less money than in the second one. Once our basic needs are met, we care more about our relative position in a group than in some absolute measure of our reward. [The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art (2013), Anjan Chatterjee]

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