Gus Cooney.

When fairness matters less than we expect


Cooney, G.
Gilbert, D. T.
Wilson, T. D


Cooney, G., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2016). When fairness matters less than we expect.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,113, 11168-11171.

Human beings care a great deal about the fairness of the procedures that are used to allocate resources, such as wealth, opportunity, and power. But in a series of experiments, we show that those to whom resources are allocated often care less about fairness than those who allocate the resources expect them to. This “allocator’s illusion” results from the fact that fairness seems more important before an allocation is made (when allocators are choosing a procedure) than afterward (when receivers are reacting to the procedure that allocators chose).

These studies suggest that when allocators are unable to overcome their own pre-allocation perspectives and adopt the receivers’ post-allocation perspectives, they may allocate resources in ways that do not maximize the net happiness of receivers. Thus, this illusion has important consequences for policy-makers, managers, health care providers, judges, teachers, parents, and others who are charged with choosing the procedures by which things of value will be allocated

Interests & hobbies

Embarking on adventures through skiing, immersing myself in diverse cultures through rugs and textiles, and finding serenity in the art of surfing – these are the passion that shape my life.