Culture and Cooperation
30 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 9, 2010
Does the cultural background influence the success with which genetically unrelated individuals cooperate in social dilemma situations? In this paper we provide an answer by analyzing the data of Herrmann et al. (Science 2008, pp. 1362-1367), who study cooperation and punishment in sixteen subject pools from six different world cultures (as classified by Inglehart & Baker (American Sociological Review 2000, pp. 19-51)). We use analysis of variance to disentangle the importance of cultural background relative to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences in cooperation. We find that culture has a substantial influence on the extent of cooperation, in addition to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences identified by previous research. The significance of this result is that cultural background has a substantial influence on cooperation in otherwise identical environments. This is particularly true in the presence of punishment opportunities.
Keywords: human cooperation, punishment, culture, experimental public good games
JEL Classification: C92, D64, D79, H41, Z10, Z13
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