Scope of cooperation and social norms across societies


Cross cultural differences in large-scale cooperation have been attributed to differences in social capital, i.e., values and norms that foster cooperation among unknowns. For instance, the generalized morality theory, the WEIRD and the Universalism framework, all suggest that people in countries with restricted morality can cooperate in small-scale but fail to do so when the scope of cooperation increases and includes unknown others. Paying taxes, a building block of modern states, is such an example. The role of contemporary institutions as a potential moderator of the effect of social capital on cooperation has been neglected, however. In this study we put these theories to the test and provide a first direct test of the potential role of institutions in explaining part of the cross-cultural variation in cooperation. In a cross-cultural setting, we manipulate the scope of cooperation across three treatments of the dice game experiment and measure cooperation and corresponding social norms. A fourth treatment is designed to investigate the effect of institutions. Correlation between drop of cooperation and indices of Individualism, Kinship intensity, or Impersonal trust, will constitute evidence in favor of the scope of cooperation theory. Quality of Institutions. We test our hypotheses with samples of university students based in a wide range of countries across five continents with significant cultural variation.

Principal Investigators
4th EU-LAC Joint Call STI 2022 [EULAC-2022-166]