Looking at my brother’s blog reminded me of a piece I saw on TV a while ago. I can’t remember where I saw this, but it’s a really interesting concept. A teacher was showing students how humans react to ownership vs. sharing with a simple experiment using Hershey Kisses.

First, she passed out a jar of Hershey Kisses. The students were allowed to take as many as they wanted and no one else saw how many they took. All the Hershey Kisses were taken. The students knew that if any Hershey Kisses were left, they’d get three more for each one left. Yet, they were all gone.

Next, when she gave each person 3 Hershey Kisses that they were told belonged to them and told them to eat as many as they wanted, almost no one ate all three. Like the experiment above, the students were given three Hershey Kisses for each kiss left. So, since they had ownership of their kisses, they cared if there were some left because they belonged to them and they would then also own the surplus.

Now, imagine instead of Hershey Kisses, these were fish and the jar was the ocean. This explains why fisherman continue to deplete the ocean of fish. It’s a public domain and they don’t own it. It also explains why pollution is so hard to beat. We don’t own the air.