Where did this bias come from?
According to Steven Pinker, our minds have a built in system of intuitive economics:
It is based on the concept of reciprocal exchange, in which one party confers a benefit on another and is entitled to an equivalent benefit in return.The bias results from the application of this mindset to modern economies. As Caplan explains, this knowledge suggests we should rely less on demoacracy.
The most common kind of exchange is what [Alan] Fiske calls Equality Matching. Two people exchange goods or favors at different times, and the traded items are identical or at least highly similar or easily comparable. The trading partners assess their debts by simple addition or subtraction and are satisfied when the favors even out. The partners feel that the exchange binds them in a relationship, and often people will consummate exchanges just to maintain it. For example, in the trading rings of the Pacific Islands, gifts circulate from chief to chief, and the original giver may eventually get his gift back. (Many Americans suspect that this is what happens to Christmas fruitcakes.) When someone violates an Equality Matching relationship by taking a benefit without returning it in kind, the other party feels cheated and may retaliate aggressively. Equality Matching is the only mechanism of trade in most hunter-gatherer societies. Fiske notes that it is supported by a mental model of tit-for-tat reciprocity, and Leda Cosmides and John Tooby have shown that this way of thinking comes easily to Americans as well. It appears to be the core of our intuitive economics. [from The Blank Slate]