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  • 1 Department of Anthropology & Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA
  • 2 Department of Anthropology & Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, Rutgers University, 131 George St., New Brunswick, NJ, 08901-1414, USA
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Abstract

We framed trust games played by Americans with the concept of osotua, a Maasai label for a type of gift-giving relationship shaped by feelings of mutual respect, restraint, and responsibility. As a control, one third of the participants (N = 70) read a text unrelated to social life. The other two-thirds (N = 140) read about Maasai and osotua. Half of those who read about Maasai and osotua played unlabeled trust games, while the other half played trust games labeled “the Osotua game.” Results are similar to those previously obtained from trust games played by Kenyan Maasai with and without osotua framing. As in Kenya, transfers were lower in the osotua-framed games than in the games framed by the Maasai text but not the osotua label. As in Kenya, the relationships among transfers and expected returns in the games framed by the Maasai text but not the osotua label reflect the tit-for-tat logic of reciprocity, while osotua-framed games do not show that pattern. These findings have implications for the experimental game method and for the study of the relationship between culture, social norms, and social behavior.

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No Evolutionist is an Island

A review of Kevin N. Laland and Gillian R. Brown (2011) Sense and Nonsense. Evolutionary perspectives of human behaviour Oxford: Oxford University Press. 270 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-958696-7