Cultural norms, cooperation, and communication: Taking experiments to the field in indigenous communities

Emergence of cooperative behavior 2


Form apaperby Rucha Ghate, Suresh Ghate, & Elinor Ostrom.

Extensive experimental research has been devoted to the study of behaviour in laboratory settings related to public goods, common-pool resources, and other social dilemmas. When subjects are anonymous and not allowed to communicate, they tend not to cooperate. To the surprise of game theorists, however, simply allowing subjects to communicate in a laboratory setting enables them to achieve far more cooperative outcomes. This finding has now been replicated in many laboratory experiments in multiple countries and in some initial field experiments. Carefully conducted laboratory experiments do have strong internal validity. External validity, however, requires further research beyond the initial field experiments that have already been conducted. In this paper, we report on a series of common-pool resource field experiments conducted in eight indigenous communities in India that have very long traditions of shared norms and mutual trust. Two experimental…

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