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Symposium 2015

Reflexivity: The Interplay between Caring Decisions and Caring Societies

The Challenge

How can the communities of people around the globe be induced to become more caring, not just within the social groups from which they derive their identities, but also across these groups? As the world's problems - from climate change to financial crises - become more global in reach, how can people's domain of altruism be extended accordingly? What concrete steps can be taken across countries and cultures to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and weaken the forces of conflict?

These questions may be addressed at various levels:

  1. Education and training: Can altruistic dispositions be promoted through the provision of the appropriate contemplative techniques in schools, universities and workplaces?
  2. Social settings at school and work: Can people be induced to support one another through the design of social settings that call for teamwork and cooperation rather than competition in educational and workplace assessment?
  3. Does a caring society require restrictions on advertising, public esteem for caring initiatives and public censure of extreme status seeking behaviors?
  4. To what degree does social cooperation require institutions that define social groups, provide rules governing the use of collective goods, clear sanctions for rule breaking and rules governing behavior in cases of conflict?


The session will contain

  1. three presentations on practical strategies of achieving care and altruism across conventional in-group boundaries,
  2. followed by concrete suggestions on how these strategies may be implemented and
  3. a critical discussion and appraisal.

 

This session is organized by Dennis J. Snower, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    Culture and the Formation of (In)Efficient Conventions

    Culture and the Formation of (In)Efficient Conventions

    Culture and the Formation of (In)Efficient Conventions

    Solution
    Symposium 2015

    From Training the Mind and Heart towards a More Caring Society: Lessons from and Implementation to the ReSource Project

    From Training the Mind and Heart towards a More Caring Society: Lessons from and Implementation to the ReSource Project

    From Training the Mind and Heart towards a More Caring Society: Lessons from and Implementation to the ReSource Project

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    Reflexivity: The Interplay between Caring Decisions and Caring Societies

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Compassion: Bridging Practice and Science

    This book presents an almost complete, yet accessible summary about the findings of compassion research and how they can be translated into concrete applications to improve the quality of life in vari ...

    This book presents an almost complete, yet accessible summary about the findings of compassion research and how they can be translated into concrete applications to improve the quality of life in various domains. To this end, findings from the fields of psychology, Buddhism and evolutionary theory are presented and analyzed. Practical examples of the applications of these insights come from education, psychotherapy, coaching and care-giving. Moreover, the book features detailed instructions on how to train compassion with different programs that are directly ready to use.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Video: The Neuroscience of Compassion

    In this video, Tania Singer talks about a unique large-scale longitudinal research project she conduced, “The ReSource Project” and what its findings can imply for improving global cooperation. Th ...

    In this video, Tania Singer talks about a unique large-scale longitudinal research project she conduced, “The ReSource Project” and what its findings can imply for improving global cooperation. The ReSource Project instructed participants in different forms of mental training. The training consisted of three modules: The first trained the awareness for the self and the presence, the second trained perspective taking with different individuals and the third aims to train prosocial motivations. The ReSource Project aimed at investigating the effects of this training on attentional, cognitive and affective functioning, plasticity of the brain, the autonomic nervous system, but also on subjective well-being, health, stress responsivity, social intelligence, emotion regulation, prosocial behavior and cooperation. This training shows great promise in fostering global cooperation, overcoming the negative aspects of in-group / out-group distinctions on a global scale and tus resolve global conflicts.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    The Path to Altruism

    This text points out that mankind faces global challenges like ensuring everyone decent living conditions and protecting the nature and that these challenges can be overcome by globally adopting an ap ...

    This text points out that mankind faces global challenges like ensuring everyone decent living conditions and protecting the nature and that these challenges can be overcome by globally adopting an approach of altruism. Building on insights like those presented in the first two must-reads, Ricard points out that not only can individuals learn to be more altruistic but that the same is true for whole societies. It is clearly identified that especially our current economic system has to recognize that a more altruistic approach of doing things has to be adopted. The text concludes by mentioning very concrete areas and ideas, how practices can be moved towards being more altruistic and in line with a concept of “sustainable harmony”.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Video: How to Let Altruism Be your Guide

    Humans have to be the potential to behave altruistically. Humans are also the main actor on this planet and human behavior has most likely led to a huge biodiversity loss, atmospheric pollution and a ...

    Humans have to be the potential to behave altruistically. Humans are also the main actor on this planet and human behavior has most likely led to a huge biodiversity loss, atmospheric pollution and a general overexploitation of resources. If this behavior continues, the planet and its inhabitants are in great danger. At the core of this problem lays the difference of either behaving selfishly or altruistically. Selfish behavior is associated with short-term thinking and behavior which manifests itself most prominently in current business practices. This trend has to be reversed by considering more the perspective of others and what the own actions may mean for other people and this planet. On an institutional level, compassion training should be rolled out globally to achieve a switch to an altruistic cultural revolution.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior Part 1, Chapter 2: Thinking Socially

    Although parts of standard economic theory see the human actor as behaving individualistically and solely motivated by self-interest, human actors are rather social creatures and in reality influenced ...

    Although parts of standard economic theory see the human actor as behaving individualistically and solely motivated by self-interest, human actors are rather social creatures and in reality influenced by norms of social groups. These social norms shape the behavior of humans who live within the group that supports this social norm. Various agents, like development practitioners, that fail to take these social influences into account are likely to design and implement inappropriate policies. Recognizing that human behavior is driven by social norms means that extrinsic monetary incentives alone are not always optimal in order to elicit motivated behavior. Social incentives that build on social recognition by a group can be even more effective. The text also recognizes that monetary incentives can even have adverse effects in the sense that they can “crowd out” intrinsic motivation. The document further discusses that cognitive interventions that change identities and self-perceptions can be powerful sources of positive social change. Also, the article presents evidence that individuals are willing to cooperate in the pursuit of shared goals which means that institutions and interventions can be designed to let social preferences come into effect.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Why Motivation Matters in Public Sector Innovation

    A change in values towards more pro-social motivation in a society requires that also the values of the public sector and the workers that work in this sector need to change accordingly. So far, insig ...

    A change in values towards more pro-social motivation in a society requires that also the values of the public sector and the workers that work in this sector need to change accordingly. So far, insights about behavior and decision processes coming from neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics had little influence in the structure and work processes of the public sector itself. However, also public servants draw on intrinsic motivations and are driven by altruistic motives. Unfortunately, their incentive systems, structures and workflows are rather designed to provide motivation through extrinsic motivation. Moreover, this document makes the point that showing public sector employees the prosocial impact of their work can increase their feeling of compassion for these citizens. This then in turn can lead to innovation of the public sector towards more pro-social outcomes.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Human Cooperation

    This article reviews the five mechanisms by which human cooperation might have evolved evolutionary: direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, spatial selection, multilevel selection and kin selection ...

    This article reviews the five mechanisms by which human cooperation might have evolved evolutionary: direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, spatial selection, multilevel selection and kin selection from a socio-biological point of view. To this end the article combines theoretical research on evolutionary dynamics with experiments examining human behavior. The authors are of the opinion that intuitively humans favor cooperation as a behavioral response if reciprocation from other actors or the environment has been observed or is likely. However, the powerful role played by learning and culture for the evolution of cooperation is stressed. Being aware of these evolutionary dynamics behind cooperation can serve as a guideline for individuals and institutions seeking to promote more cooperative behavior and policies in settings in which it is currently lacking.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Business Culture and Dishonesty in the Banking Industry

    At least equally important to values of workers in the public sector are values and business culture in the private sector. This study shows that bank employee’s are only then found to shirk more if ...

    At least equally important to values of workers in the public sector are values and business culture in the private sector. This study shows that bank employee’s are only then found to shirk more if their identity as a banker together with the prevailing business culture in this industry is stressed. It goes without saying that this implies that making an identity salient (banker) is at the same time associated with particular behaviors of this identity which then even influences these people to actually adopt these identities and behaviors although they would not have behaved this way without this priming. This in turn implies that if other identities (other than banking) were evoked, or the bankers constantly would have trained their compassion abilities, this might have led to different behavior. The last part of this article serves as a model example of proposing solutions to how prevailing norms in a concrete business case might be changed. Proposed solutions are: Making bankers take a professional oath, giving bankers an ethics training and giving ethics reminders.