The Ultimatum Game, Fairness, and Cooperation among Big Game Hunters

Michael S. Alvard

in Foundations of Human Sociality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199262052
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601637 | DOI:
 The Ultimatum Game, Fairness, and Cooperation among Big Game Hunters

Show Summary Details


The Ultimatum Game was played with a group of traditional big game hunters: the Lamalera whalers of Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, whose community is described in the first section of the chapter. The methods used for the study are then outlined and the results presented and discussed. The results were consistent in some ways with those from trials in western societies, with the primary difference that there were a number of cases of hyper‐fairness: one interpretation offered of these cases is that the whale hunters made strategic decisions when they made fair offers, but other explanations are also examined on the basis of the results of various cross‐cultural studies (including those in this book). These focus on the rejection of both fair and hyper‐fair offers in the Ultimatum Game (which have been interpreted as indicating an unwillingness to punish), and the issue of the variance seen in the cross‐cultural sample in this book in relation to fairness, for which strategic risk reduction is one explanation, but reputation effects are another, and the best model incorporates market integration and payoff to cooperation. The final section of the chapter discusses evolutionary theory and adaptive responses in relation to human cooperative behaviour.

Keywords: adaptive responses; big game hunters; cooperation; cross‐cultural studies; evolutionary theory; fairness; human cooperative behaviour; Indonesia; Lamalera whalers; market integration; Nusa Tenggara; payoff to cooperation; rejection of offers; reputation; strategic decision making; strategic risk reduction; Ultimatum Game

Chapter.  8974 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.