Kinship, Familiarity, and Trust: An Experimental Investigation

Abigail Barr

in Foundations of Human Sociality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199262052
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601637 | DOI:
 Kinship, Familiarity, and Trust: An Experimental Investigation

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The Trust Game and the Ultimatum Game were used to look at the effects of kinship ties, familiarity, and trust on social interaction among the Shona of Zimbabwe. The study described made a behavioural comparison between two groups: a group of new villages that were set up in 1997 as resettlements consisting almost entirely of unrelated households (in which there could be a persistent erosion of trust), and a control group of non‐resettled villages made up almost exclusively of kin. The behaviour observed in resettled and non‐resettled villages in both games is first briefly summarized and discussed before outlining the experimental design used and presenting and analyzing the results in detail. In general, the results were consistent with there being no differences in socially transmitted behavioural rules between resettled and non‐resettled villages, and with the hypothesis that resettled villagers are neither more nor less altruistic or loyal towards their co‐villagers than non‐resettled villagers. However, they are also consistent with the hypothesis that resettled villagers behave more cautiously when in strategic situations with their co‐villagers; this lower level of trust might be due to the lower density in kinship ties, which in turn leads to less familiarity with other people's behavioural characteristics.

Keywords: altruism; familiarity; familiarity; kinship ties; loyalty; non‐resettled villages; resettled villages; Shona; social behaviour; social interaction; Trust; Trust Game; Ultimatum Game; Zimbabwe

Chapter.  9650 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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