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Is the hand of God involved in human cooperation?

  • Ali M. Ahmed
  • Osvaldo Salas
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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the supernatural punishment theory. The theory postulates that religion increases cooperation because religious people fear the retributions that may follow if they do not follow the rules and norms provided by the religion. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports results for a public goods experiment conducted in India, Mexico, and Sweden. By asking participants whether they are religious or not, one can study whether religiosity has an effect on voluntary cooperation in the public goods game. Findings – No significant behavioral differences were found between religious and nonreligious participants in the experiment. Originality/value – This paper differs from the previous limited experimental literature, studying religiosity and cooperation, in the sense that it uses a public goods game rather than a prisoner's dilemma game. The public goods game is more interesting since many real life problems are multilateral rather than bilateral. Further, the study was conducted in three different countries: India, Mexico, and Sweden; with three different types of potentialy religious people: Hindus, Catholics, and Protestants.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Social Economics.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 70-80

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:36:y:2009:i:1:p:70-80
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