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Does it pay to pray? Costly ritual and cooperation

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  • Bradley Ruffle
  • Richard Sosis

Abstract

Time-consuming and costly religious rituals pose a puzzle for economists committed to rational choice theories of human behavior. We propose that either through selection or a causal relationship, the performance of religious rituals is associated with higher levels of cooperation. To test this hypothesis we design field experiments to measure the in-group cooperative behavior of members of religious and secular Israeli kibbutzim, communal societies for which mutual cooperation is a matter of survival. Our results show that religious males (the primary practitioners of collective religious ritual in Orthodox Judaism) are more cooperative than religious females, secular males and secular females. Moreover, the frequency with which religious males engage in collective religious rituals predicts well their degree of cooperative behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00014.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00014

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  1. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  2. Eli Berman, 1998. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," NBER Working Papers 6715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard Sosis & Bradley Ruffle, 2003. "Religious ritual and cooperation: Testing for a relationship on israeli religious and secular kibbutzim," Artefactual Field Experiments 00103, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Richard Sosis & Bradley Ruffle, 2006. "Cooperation and the in-group-out-group bias: A field test on israeli kibbutz members and city residents," Artefactual Field Experiments 00104, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Olof Johansson Stenman & Minhaj Mahmud & Peter Martinsson, 2006. "Trust and Religion: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh," Keele Economics Research Papers KERP 2006/10, Centre for Economic Research, Keele University.
  6. Jean Ensminger, 1997. "Transaction Costs and Islam: Explaining Conversion in Africa," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 153(1), pages 4-, March.
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RePEc Biblio mentions

As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
  1. > Economics, Ethics, and Culture > Religion and Faith > Rational Choice Theory
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Cited by:
  1. Robert Hoffmann, 2011. "The Experimental Economics of Religion," Discussion Papers 2011-07, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Jan Heufer, 2009. "In Vino Veritas: The Economics of Drinking," Ruhr Economic Papers 0158, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  3. Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & Geoffrey W. Fisher, 2010. "Religious Identity and Economic Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2009. "Religion and cooperation in a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 58-60, October.
  5. H'MADOUN, Maryam, 2011. "Afraid of God or afraid of man: How religion shapes attitudes toward free riding and fraud," Working Papers 2011008, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  6. Chen, Kang & Tang, Fang-Fang, 2009. "Cultural differences between Tibetans and ethnic Han Chinese in ultimatum bargaining experiments," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 78-84, March.
  7. Tolciu, Andreia, 2009. "What a difference peers can make: The impact of social (work) norms on unemployment duration," HWWI Research Papers 1-24, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  8. Anja Koebrich Leon & Christian Pfeifer, 2013. "An Empirical Note on Religiosity and Social Trust using German Survey Data," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 753-763.
  9. Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Stereotypes and madrassas: experimental evidence from Pakistan," Staff Reports 501, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Tan, Jonathan H.W. & Vogel, Claudia, 2008. "Religion and trust: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 832-848, December.

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