Psychological experiments show that we value fairness, but what we consider fair depends on our own feelings of self-worth and, above all, the society in which we live.
Fairness is, so one argument goes, ingrained from birth. And it's true that most parents have heard the refrain "it's not fair" more times than they can count. It seems we all have a strong notion of what is equitable and violating that can cause us great distress. Yet fairness itself seems to be a remarkably fluid notion.
Experiment after experiment shows that we value fairness, but what it means at any one time is dependent on our own feelings of self-worth, our environment and, above all, the society in which we live.
This week on The Human Zoo, Michael Blastland gives the notion of fairness a fair hearing.
Producer: Toby Murcott
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.