“Takers”- Adding Another Perspective to the Discussion A Result of the Imp

August 7, 2019 ~ Written by: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner

Approx. Read Time: 7 Minutes

“While I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.” – Confucius


Thanks to a good friend and highly regarded neuroscientist Gitendra Uswatte, we have gone back to the drawing board on the article entitled Takers – A Result of the Imp of the Perverse – Part 1.

Gitendra responded to the article as follows:

“I typically see eye to eye with you but have to disagree with your thesis in this piece that acting to exploit others is against human nature. My view is that most of us have a mix of impulses, both to benefit and harm others. And that the mix of beneficial to harmful impulses varies across individuals. That is not a flaw but a feature. Just like genetic variation produces a wide range of skin and eye colors, genetic variation produces a wide range of behavioral propensities. Different mixes suit different environments best, and even when a particular makeup is sub optimal for an environment, there is an advantage to the species in maintaining that makeup at some low-frequency in case the environment changes.”


“That is not to say that the traditional Western view that man is sinful by nature strikes the right balance or that we cannot shift the behavior of business leaders by changing corporate culture, laws, and regulations.”

What follows are references to articles recommended by Gitendra that have been summarized into salient points. The hope is that this format will provide food for thought in a context that works for busy people.

Author(s) Direct Quotes
Jeroen M. van Baar, Luke J. Chang and Alan G. Sanfey · Different participants spontaneously and consistently employ different moral strategies. By mapping an integrative computational model of reciprocity decisions onto brain activity using inter-subject representational similarity analysis of fMRI data, we find markedly different neural substrates for the strategies of ‘guilt aversion’.

· How different individuals may utilize different moral principles.

Paul K. Piff · But narcissism is not evenly distributed across social strata.

· Higher social class is associated with increased entitlement and narcissism.

Paul K. Piff, Daniel M. Stancato, Stephane Cote, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton and Dacher Keltner · Upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower class individuals.

· Upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies.

· Cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work.

· More favorable attitudes toward greed.

Sara Reardon ·  Particularly for those who are very poor.

· The brains of children from the lowest income bracket — less than US$25,000 — had up to 6% less surface area than did those of children from families making more than US$150,000.

Kimberly G Noble, Suzanne M Houston, Natalie H Brito, Hauke Bartsch, Eric Kan, Joshua M Kuperman, Natacha Akshoomoff, David G Amaral, Cinnamon S Bloss, Ondrej Libiger, Nicholas J Schork, Sarah S Murray, B J Casey, Linda Chang,Thomas M Ernst, Jean A Frazier, Jeffrey R Gruen, David N Kennedy, Peter Van Zijl, Stewart Mostofsky, Walter E Kaufmann, Tal Kenet, Anders M Dale, Terry L Jernigan & Elizabeth R Sowell · These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills.

· These data imply that income relate most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantage children.

Further Reading

“All things come into being by conflict of opposites.” – Heraclitus c. 522 BCE

With this feedback in mind and our never-ending determination to understand the mindset that results in the idealist challenge of ‘makers and takers’, we have compiled additional articles to share.


Van Baar et al (#7) added still another direction:

  • “Some people may rely on principles of both guilt and fairness and may switch their moral rule depending on the circumstances, according to a new study on moral decision-making and cooperation.”

Alexander (#6) sums up the perspective of the great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

  • “To deal with the anxiety of knowing they will die, Niebuhr says, human beings are tempted to – and often do – grasp at whatever means of security seem within their reach, such as knowledge, material goods or prestige.”


“Without contraries is no progression.” – William Blake c. 1790

In summary, there seems to be many perspectives on what might lead to a taker vs. maker orientation. Hopefully, as the social (as well as personal) impact of this continues to manifest itself, the “perverse” nature of the decision will be obvious.


Recommendations by Gitendra Uswatte:

Updated Bibliography

About the Author: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist with more than 50 years of business success. He is not a scientist or an academic but he does have a diversified exposure to neuroscience, psychology and related cognitive sciences. Generally speaking, the ideas he expresses here are business-angled expansions of other people’s ideas, so when possible, he will link to the original reference.