nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒05‒22
eight papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. The Evolution of Ostracism in Human Societies By Noblit, Graham Alexander; Henrich, Joseph
  2. The Effect of the Out of Africa Migration on Cultural Diversity By Wainstock, Daniel Crisóstomo; Galor, Oded; Klemp, Marc
  3. Preference Evolution under Stable Matching By Ziwei Wang; Jiabin Wu
  4. Ancestral Livelihoods and Moral Universalism: Evidence from Transhumant Pastoralist Societies By Sara Lowes; Etienne Le Rossignol
  5. Normative Conflict and Normative Change By Noblit, Graham Alexander; Hadfield, Gillian
  6. The Importance of Reciprocity: Investigating Individual Differences Underlying Conditional Cooperation By Léon Bartosch; Dorothee Mischkowski
  7. Communication in the Infinitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Theory and Experiments By Maximilian Andres
  8. Intrinsic Preferences for Autonomy By Freundt, Jana; Herz, Holger; KOPP, leander

  1. By: Noblit, Graham Alexander; Henrich, Joseph
    Abstract: Understanding how humans successfully stabilize public good contributions is a major ongoing question in the social and behavioral sciences. The use of targeted sanctions against defecting strategies is an important solution to this problem. However, ethnographic and behavioral evidence suggest that punishment is sometimes not used against defectors to stabilize cooperation. Sanctions instead are either light and insufficient to coerce cooperation or take the form of verbal repudiations, urging defectors to reform their behavior. Should defectors not reform, they are then ostracized from groups. We construct a cultural evolutionary game-theoretic model to study the evolution of ostracizing strategies in public goods games. We demonstrate that simple ostracizing strategies are unlikely to be evolutionarily viable and can neither encourage the evolution of contrite-defectors, who respond to punishment with cooperation, nor can invade recalcitrant-defecting populations, which ignore punishment. Motivated by the ethnographic literature, we then consider a hybrid sanctioning-ostracizing strategy that lightly-sanctions defectors before ostracizing repeat defectors. Such a strategy demonstrates clear advantages over simple sanctioning strategies. It can afford to impose light-sanctions when common because these sanctions are irrelevant when coercing future cooperation from defectors. More so, when recalcitrant defecting strategies have some possibility of arising in a population, sanctioning-ostracizing strategies dominate pure sanctioning ones, stabilizing cooperation with greater efficiency. Finally, our model makes psychological predictions concerning the reasoning processes that defectors will go through when defectors are coerced to cooperate by the threat of ostracism as opposed to sanctioning.
    Date: 2023–04–15
  2. By: Wainstock, Daniel Crisóstomo (Brown University); Galor, Oded (Brown University); Klemp, Marc (University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: Evidence suggests that the Out of Africa Migration has impacted the degree of intra-population genetic and phenotypic diversity across the globe. This paper provides the first evidence that this migration has shaped cultural diversity. Leveraging a folklore catalogue of 958 oral traditions across the world, we show that ethnic groups further away from East Africa along the migratory routes have lower folkloric diversity. This pattern is consistent with the compression of genetic, phenotypic, and phonemic traits along the Out of Africa migration routes, setting conditions for the emergence and proliferation of differential cultural diversity and economic development across the world.
    Keywords: diversity, culture, Out of Africa migration, folklore
    JEL: O10 Z10
    Date: 2023–04
  3. By: Ziwei Wang; Jiabin Wu
    Abstract: We present a model that investigates preference evolution with endogenous matching. In the short run, individuals' subjective preferences simultaneously determine who they are matched with and how they behave in the social interactions with their matched partners, which results in material payoffs for them. Material payoffs in turn affect how preferences evolve in the long run. To properly model the "match-to-interact" process, we combine stable matching and equilibrium concepts. Our findings emphasize the importance of parochialism, a preference for matching with one's own kind, in shaping our results. Under complete information, the parochial efficient preference type -- characterized by a weak form of parochialism and a preference for efficiency -- stands out in the evolutionary process, because it is able to force positive assortative matching and efficient play among individuals carrying this preference type. Under incomplete information, the exclusionary efficient preference type -- characterized by a stronger form of parochialism and a preference for efficiency -- prevails, as it provides individuals with an incentive to engage in self-sorting through rematching in any matching outcomes that involve incomplete information and inefficient play.
    Date: 2023–04
  4. By: Sara Lowes (UC San Diego - University of California [San Diego] - UC - University of California); Etienne Le Rossignol (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UP1 UFR02 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - École d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, London Business School)
    Abstract: Moral universalism, the extent to which individuals exhibit similar altruism and trust towards in-group and out-group members, varies widely across societies. We test the hypothesis from anthropology that the requirements of transhumant pastoralism – a livelihood in which populations seasonally migrate and herd livestock – made individuals highly interdependent and cohesive within groups but hostile to individuals beyond the radius of extended kin. Using global data, we find that historical reliance on transhumant pastoralism is strongly predictive of greater in-group relative to out-group trust. This result is consistent across countries, between residents of the same country, among second-generation migrants, and with an instrumental variable strategy. We find evidence that these results are specific to transhumant pastoralism. The effects are particularly pronounced when transhumant pastoralists interact with groups that rely on other forms of economic production and in areas that are prone to climate shocks and conflict. Finally, we explore the economic implications of limited moral universalism. We find that greater reliance on transhumant pastoralism is associated with less objective promotion criteria within firms and smaller firm size.
    Keywords: Transhumant pastoralism, Trust, Moral universalism, Kinship, Culture, Firms
    Date: 2022–07
  5. By: Noblit, Graham Alexander; Hadfield, Gillian
    Abstract: Human life is riddled with norms, many though not all of which are costly for individuals to adopt. Similarly, human ecological adaptation relies on costly-behaviors that often generate non-rivalrous and non-exclusionary benefits for group-members. Yet, in a dynamic world, innovations, environmental change, and information-revelation mean that what norms are beneficial for a group to adopt will inevitably change over time. However, multiple game-theoretic models studying the various mechanisms stabilizing normative behaviors have demonstrated that the stability of a norm does not depend on the benefits it confers. In turn, explanations of normative change have either relied on group-selective mechanisms to explain the presence of adaptive norms or have failed to identify conditions under which normative change occurs. We study normative change by means of costly-punishment and conflict resolution. We identify social differentiation in goals and punishment capacity as a key condition permitting normative change. While normative change that results from such social differentiation need not be group beneficial it will be beneficial to some subset of agents in the population. We additionally discuss how the intra-societal forces of normative conflict that we study might interact with group-selective forces and in turn determine the dynamics and outcomes of group-selection.
    Date: 2023–04–20
  6. By: Léon Bartosch (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Dorothee Mischkowski (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)
    Abstract: Several models of social preferences have been developed at the intersection of social psychology and behavioral economics, such as social value orientation (SVO) and conditional cooperation. Whereas SVO is well researched in its dispositional and situational correlates, we aim to locate conditional cooperation within the HEXACO personality model, particularly expecting a relation to reactive vs. active prosociality (i.e., Agreeableness vs. Honesty-Humility). Contrary to our expectations, however, in two preregistered, incentivized studies (n total = 521) conditional cooperation was neither related to Agreeableness nor to Honesty-Humility. When investigating the relation between SVO and conditional cooperation, we conceptually replicate a positive relation between both (pro-)social preferences. Surprisingly, while prosocials coincide with conditional cooperators, even most individualists who maximize their outcome in unilateral giving turn to conditionally cooperative behavior in strategic interactions. This underlines the importance of shaping situations as reciprocal acts to elicit cooperative behavior from originally self-interested individuals.
    Keywords: Conditional Cooperation, Social Value Orientation, Basic Personality Traits, HEXACO, Reciprocity
    JEL: C93 D01 D91 I12
    Date: 2023–01
  7. By: Maximilian Andres
    Abstract: So far, the theory of equilibrium selection in the infinitely repeated prisoner's dilemma is insensitive to communication possibilities. To address this issue, we incorporate the assumption that communication reduces -- but does not entirely eliminate -- an agent's uncertainty that the other agent follows a cooperative strategy into the theory. Because of this, agents still worry about the payoff from cooperating when the other one defects, i.e. the sucker's payoff S, and, games with communication are more conducive to cooperation than games without communication. This theory is supported by data from laboratory experiments, and by machine learning based evaluation of the communication content.
    Date: 2023–04
  8. By: Freundt, Jana (University of Fribourg, Switzerland); Herz, Holger (University of Fribourg, Switzerland); KOPP, leander (University of Fribourg, Switzerland)
    Abstract: Personal autonomy has been argued to be fundamental to well-being and is often discussed as an important driver of economic and political behavior. Yet, preferences for autonomy are not well understood, because their identification requires the separation of instrumental value attached to autonomous choice. We propose a novel elicitation method that solves this identification challenge. We establish the existence of intrinsic preferences for choice autonomy and show substantial heterogeneity in a large online sample. We further study their antecedents by relating them to existing personality scales and socioeconomic characteristics. Finally, we test their association with other preferences, attitudes and beliefs.
    Keywords: autonomy, delegation, experiment design, choice consistency
    JEL: C91 D01 D90
    Date: 2023–04–07

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