Experimental games and games of life among the Ju/'hoan Bushmen

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53 Scopus citations


Experimental games - the dictator game and the ultimatum game - were played out among the Ju/'hoan Bushmen of the Kalahari. Subsequently, the experimenter tracked what the players did with the money earned in the games to see how it was used in "games of everyday life."\ Players were stingy and did not punish in experimental games and were generous and did punish in "games of life." The fact that the conditions of anonymity of the games removed cultural institutions and emotions governing sharing and reciprocity led Ju/'hoansi to reassess risks and benefits and play more selfishly. The findings underline the importance of cultural institutions such as sharing, reciprocity, and social sanctions (costly punishment) to provide the structure for other-regarding behavior to be expressed and to be rendered beneficial for the participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-138
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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