Very interesting article at NY Times about spite as both a motivator of human behavior, and as a means of promoting fair play. My favorite part is this:
game participants would reject a partner’s stingy offer indignantly, an apparent act of spite that left both empty-handed — at least for the moment.
“It’s probably not spiteful when you’re looking at the long term,” Dr. Marlowe said. “If you get the reputation as someone not to mess with and nobody messes with you going forward, then it was well worth the cost.”
This is particularly interesting when you feel like you are likely being cheated. If you feel that the other person is likely to cheat, do you feel obliged to increase the stakes in order to improve your own position, or to deny the other person satisfaction? Very interesting dilemma.