Does Market Exposure Affect Economic Game Behavior?

Michael Gurven

in Foundations of Human Sociality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199262052
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601637 | DOI:
 Does Market Exposure Affect Economic Game Behavior?

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This chapter focuses on the behaviour in the Ultimatum and Public Goods Games of the Tsimane’, a group of Bolivian forager–horticulturalists. The study attempts to answer two questions: (1) whether Tsimane’ game behaviour differs from the standard results found among westernized, market‐oriented, and industrialized populations, and (2) whether differential market exposure and acculturation affect norms of fairness and game behaviour across Tsimane’ villages. The chapter is arranged as follows: an introduction discusses cross‐cultural game results, makes some predictions for results from the Tsimane’, and describes their characteristics; next, the methods used are outlined and the results are presented and analysed; the final section of the chapter discusses several important questions raised by the research. Offers made by the Tsimane’ in the Ultimatum Game tended to be lower than those found among western populations and higher than those reported for the Machiguenga of Peru (ch. 5), while contributions in the Public Goods Game tended to be higher than those reported for the Machiguenga, but within the range found among western populations; there was also a high level of variation in the results from both games compared with standard western results. However, there were few differences in behaviour in either game that could be attributed to market exposure or acculturation, and the few differences that were there did not support the notion that exposure to modern markets produces game behaviour similar to that found in the west; the strongest predictor of game behaviour was village membership.

Keywords: acculturation; Bolivia; cross‐cultural study; economic game behaviour; forager–horticulturalists; market exposure; Public Goods Game; Tsimane’; Ultimatum Game; variation; village membership

Chapter.  10847 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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