In search of homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies
al behavior better explained statistically by individuals' attributes such as their sex, age, or relative wealth, or by the attributes of the group to which the individuals belong? Are there cultures that approximate the canonical account of self-regarding behavior? Existing research cannot answer such questions because virtually all subjects have been university students, and while there are cultural differences among student populations throughout the world, these differences are small compared to the range of all social and cultural environments. To address the above questions, we and our collaborators undertook a large cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public good, and dictator games. Twelve experienced field researchers, working in 12 countries on five continents, recruited subjects from 15 small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions. Our sample consists of three foraging societies, six that practice slash-and-burn horticulture
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