mattering fairness image


We seem to be wired for fairness. As human beings we are hypersensitive to fairness transgressions. So much so that lack of fairness and rejection register in the brain as physical pain. But the opposite is also true. As social neuropsychologist Matthew Lieberman notes, fairness feels like chocolate in the brain.

We seek fairness and pursue dignity. We know right away when someone makes us feel valued and when someone is dismissive. We have highly developed radars for dignity.
From children's exclamations "it's not fair" on the playground, to feeling dissed by somebody at work, evidence of our sensitivity to injustice is everywhere. The psychological wound inflicted in unfair treatment is very painful. We feel deprived of our humanity when we are dismissed, ignored, or devalued.
Researchers from Europe and the United States show that insults to our dignity come in different ways; from pity, to invisibility, bullying, and upward social comparisons. Any insinuation that we are less than other people ignites circuits of frustration and anger. These assaults need not be intentional but they are hurtful nonetheless.


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posted by Isaac Prilleltensky