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Foundations of human sociality : economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies

Author: Joseph Henrich
Publisher: Oxford, UK : Oxford University Press, 2011.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : Reprint of the 2004 edView all editions and formats
Summary:
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. Hundreds of experiments suggest that people care not only about their own material payoffs, but also about such things as  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Joseph Henrich
ISBN: 9780199262052 0199262055
OCLC Number: 746446046
Notes: Includes index.
Description: xix, 451 Seiten : Tabellen, grafici
Responsibility: ed. by Joseph Henrich [und weitere].

Abstract:

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. 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? 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 preferences that underlie the diversity of human sociality. In this study, the same experiments carried out with university students were performed in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of social, economic, and cultural conditions. The results show that the variation in behaviour is far greater than previously thought, and that the differences between societies in market integration and the importance of cooperation explain a substantial portion of this variation, which individual-level economic and demographic variables could not. The results also trace the extent to which experimental play mirrors patterns of interaction found in everyday life. The book includes a succinct but substantive introduction to the use of game theory as an analytical tool, and to its use in the social sciences for the rigorous testing of hypotheses about fundamental aspects of social behaviour outside artificially constructed laboratories. The editors also summarize the results of the fifteen case studies in a suggestive chapter about the scope of the project.

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