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Economic Games Among the Amazonian Tsimane: Exploring the Roles of Market Access, Costs of Giving, and Cooperation on Pro-Social Game Behavior

  • Michael Gurven

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    This paper reports the results of the Ultimatum Game (UG), Dictator Game (DG) and Public Goods Game (PGG) played among the Tsimane, a group of forager-horticulturalists living in the Bolivian Amazon. Game results differ significantly from those commonly reported among modern, westernized populations. Without a long history of anonymous interactions, it is highly suspect whether the Tsimane or other traditional populations play economic games under assumptions of anonymity and one-shot exposure. Employing a behavioral ecology framework, I test predictions that differential market exposure, costs of giving, and experience with cooperation can help explain much of the variance in game outcomes. While these factors sometimes act as important predictors of game behavior, the most significant predictor is village membership. Implications for understanding the role of markets, frequent interaction with strangers, and payoffs to cooperation in daily life can help us better understand cross-cultural variation in pro-social behavior. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1026256404208
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 5-24

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:7:y:2004:i:1:p:5-24
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

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    1. Joseph Henrich, 2000. "Does culture matter in economic behavior? Ultimatum game bargaining among the machiguenga," Artefactual Field Experiments 00067, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-52, July.
    3. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
    4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    5. G. Bolton, 2010. "A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 263, David K. Levine.
    6. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    7. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath & Michael Alvard & Abigail Barr & Jean Ensminger & Kim Hill & Francisco Gil-White & Micha, 2001. "Economic Man in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," Working Papers 01-11-063, Santa Fe Institute.
    8. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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