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2014年6月 9日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「好意の返報性」に注意 /東京

May 25, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Be careful of the desire to 'give back'
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「好意の返報性」に注意 /東京

One aspect of people's psychology is that of giving back. To explain it simply, it is the feeling that one should return the favor when someone is nice to them. It is an important aspect of our psychology that adds to our lives.

However, there are times when these feelings are abused. Take an example where a person who has long been kind to their neighbor one day invites them to go to a seminar. The neighbor thinks, "I don't want to go, but I should pay back this person's kindness once in a while," and agrees, but the destination turns out to be a sales fair of high-priced items, and the neighbor ends up being pressured to buy something they didn't even want.

In this way, especially in Japan, duty and friendship have long been highly valued and I believe there are many people who feel that even if it takes somewhat of a sacrifice on their part, they have to return favors.

Come the evening of May 15, there was an attempt to appeal to this sense of "giving back" through words and illustrations at a press conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The premier used an attack on United Nations peacekeeping forces from another country, and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' response to this, as an example of a scenario that should be considered by the nation. Alongside an illustrative panel, he said, "Even if we received a request for help from another country's forces that are working with us to build peace, Japan's Self-Defense Forces would have to abandon them. This is the reality."

Many people, hearing that and looking at the illustration of smiling peacekeepers, probably thought, "We should indeed help these people if they are in trouble, since they are helping the Japanese in the area. If we have to change the current interpretation of the Constitution a little for that, there is no problem."

This is a perfect example of the psychology of wanting to give back. I see people using this way of thinking in other justifications on the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, saying that if the United States military that is protecting Japan were to come under attack, it would then be Japan's turn to help.

However, is it really OK to decide important matters about our national security with the kind of "pay back favors" thinking used in regular everyday life? We mustn't allow the kindness of the people who looked at that panel and thought, "We should help these nice young people if they are attacked" to lead us to war.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年05月20日 地方版


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