The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Cross-cultural Experiments

  • Rob Boyd
Reference work entry


Experiments conducted in student populations suggest that people are not money maximizers, but also seem to have social preferences. To determine whether these social preferences are culturally variable, a group of economists and anthropologists undertook a series of economic experiments in a wide range of non-Western, small scale societies. Results in these societies were highly variable, and in some of them strikingly different from experiments in student populations. Variation in behaviour was correlated with societal characteristics, but not individual attributes. Finally, variation in punishment across societies predicted variation in cooperation across societies.


Altruism Cooperation Culture and economics Dictator game Economic experiments Experimental games Group characteristics Public goods games Reciprocity Social preferences Third-party punishment game Ultimatum game 

JEL Classifications

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob Boyd
    • 1
  1. 1.