IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wop/safiwp/01-11-063.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economic Man in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies

Author

Listed:
  • 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
  • Michael Gurven
  • Frank Marlowe
  • John Q. Patton
  • Natalie Smith
  • David Tracer

Abstract

Experimental behavioral scientists have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in over a hundred experiments from around the world. Prior research cannot determine whether this uniformity results from universal patterns of behavior, or from the limited cultural variation among the university students subject pools used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address the above questions, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in Ultimatum, Public Goods, and Dictator Games in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions. We found, first, that the canonical selfishness-based model fails in all of the societies studied. Second, there is more behavioral variability than had been found in previous research. Third, group-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games. Fourth, individual-level economic and demographic variables do not explain game behavior, either within or across groups. Fifth, in many cases experimental play appears to reflect the common interactional patterns of everyday life.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:01-11-063
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self-interest; altruism; cooperation; Ultimatum Game; Public Goods Game; cross-cultural research; experimental economics; game theory;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:01-11-063. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/epstfus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.