A recent article in Scientific American cited a correlation between altitude and attitude. Describing four different experiments, researchers concluded that physical elevation seemed to connect to generosity, kindness, and cooperation.
This is what they found:
1. At a mall, shoppers who had gone up an escalator gave more to the Salvation Army than those who traveled down.
2. In a theater, people who went up to the stage were more likely to volunteer to fill in a questionnaire than those taken down to the orchestra pit.
3. Asked how much “painfully” hot sauce to give participants in a supposed food tasting study, people up on a stage gave less than those distributing the sauce in the orchestra pit.
4. For a computer game involving cooperation, people who had just watched scenes from an airplane were more agreeable than those who had looked through a car window.
The Economic Lesson
Similarly, by relating self-interest to altitude and attitude, we can again see the psychological territory that economics can occupy.