Question: Why we would prefer to have nothing rather than an unfair share? What is the psychology behind it?
Answer: I would refine the question saying, “Why we would prefer to have nothing, rather than an unfair share, if others know that we obtained that share unfairly?”
We would prefer nothing to unfair share due to shame. Shame is a very unique, solely Human quality, which quality determines our existence.
We are all born inherently proud, individualistic, with a self-serving, self-justifying nature. But above all our self-esteem, honor is the most important notion, determining factor in Human existence. This sense of self-esteem, honor is so strong, that we are even willing to give up our physical life in order to defend it.
Thus shame burns, humiliates us, cuts us to pieces, when shame reaches us we want to disappear, die.
As a result we keep stealing, cheating, doing all kinds of unfair things to other – especially since the greatest Human pleasure is when we succeed at the expense of others – as long as nobody knows about it, or it fits with the actual society’s value system. But when we are caught, when others make us shameful for what we have done, then we want to give up everything, have nothing, just to get rid of that all-consuming shame!