Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small…

Paperback | April 7, 2004

EditorJoseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles

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What motives underlie the ways humans interact socially? Are these the same for all societies? Are these part of our nature, or influenced by our environments?Over the last decade, research in experimental economics has emphatically falsified the textbook representation of Homo economicus. Literally hundreds of experiments suggest that people care not only about their own material payoffs, but also about such things as fairness, equity and reciprocity.However, this research left fundamental questions unanswered: Are such social preferences stable components of human nature; or, are they modulated by economic, social and cultural environments? Until now, experimental research could not address this question because virtually all subjects had been university students, and while there are cultural differences among student populations throughout the world, these differences are small compared to the full range of human social and culturalenvironments. A vast amount of ethnographic and historical research suggests that people's motives are influenced by economic, social, and cultural environments, yet such methods can only yield circumstantial evidence about human motives. Combining ethnographic and experimental approaches to fill this gap, this book breaks new ground in reporting the results of a large cross-cultural study aimed at determining the sources of social (non-selfish) preferences that underlie the diversity of human sociality. The same experiments whichprovided evidence for social preferences among university students were performed in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of social, economic and cultural conditions by experienced field researchers who had also done long-term ethnographic field work in these societies. The findings of these experiments demonstrated that no society in which experimental behaviour is consistent with the canonical model of self-interest. Indeed, results showed that the variation in behaviour is far greater than previously thought, and that the differences between societies in marketintegration and the importance of cooperation explain a substantial portion of this variation, which individual-level economic and demographic variables could not. Finally, the extent to which experimental play mirrors patterns of interaction found in everyday life is traced.The book starts with a succinct but substantive introduction to the use of game theory as an analytical tool and its use in the social sciences for the rigorous testing of hypotheses about fundamental aspects of social behaviour outside artificially constructed laboratories. The results of thefifteen case studies are summarized in a suggestive chapter about the scope of the project.

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What motives underlie the ways humans interact socially? Are these the same for all societies? Are these part of our nature, or influenced by our environments?Over the last decade, research in experimental economics has emphatically falsified the textbook representation of Homo economicus. Literally hundreds of experiments suggest that...

Joseph Henrich is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. As a theorist, experimentalist and ethnographer, Henrich's work spans Anthropology, Biology, and Economics, and he has published in the leading journals in all three fields. As a field worker, he has conducted research in Peru (Amazonia), Chil...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:472 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.02 inPublished:April 7, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199262055

ISBN - 13:9780199262052

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Table of Contents

1. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, and Herbert Gintis: Introduction and Guide to the Volume2. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis, and Richard McElreath: Overview and Synthesis3. Colin Camerer and Ernst Fehr`: Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Sciences4. John Q. Patton: Coalitional Effects on Reciprocal Fairness in the Ultimatum Game: A Case from the Ecuadorian Amazon5. Joseph Henrich and Natalie Smith: Comparative Experimental Evidence from Machiguenga, Mapuche, Huinca, and American Populations Shows Substantial Variation Among Social Groups in Bargaining and Public Goods Behavior6. Frank Marlowe: Dictators and Ultimatums in an Egalitarian Society of Hunter-Gatherers - the Hadza of Tanzania7. Michael Gurven: Does Market Exposure Affect Economic Game Behavior? The Ultimatum Game and the Public Goods Game Among the Tsimane of Bolivia8. David Tracer: Market Integration, Reciprocity, and Fairness in Rural Papua New Guinea: Results from a Two-Village Ultimatum Game Experiment9. Francisco J. Gil-White: Ultimatum Game with an Ethnicity Manipulation: Results from Khovdiin Bulgan Sum, Mongolia10. Avigail Barr: Kinship, Familiarity, and Trust: An Experimental Investigation11. Richard McElreath: Community Structure, Mobility, and the Strength of Norms in an Africa Society: the Sangu of Tanzania12. Jean Ensminger: Market Integration and Fairness: Evidence from Ultimatum, Dictator, and Public Goods Experiments in East Africa13. Kim Hill and Mike Gurven: Economic Experiments to Examine Fairness and Cooperation among the Ache Indians of Paraguay14. Michael Alvard: The Ultimatum Game, Fairness, and Cooperation among Big Game Hunters