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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 01:59 PM

Why Americans are the weirdest people in the world

This is fascinating

http://www.psmag.com/magazines/pacific-standard-cover-story/joe-henrich-weird-ultimatum-game-shaking-up-psychology-economics-53135/

IN THE SUMMER of 1995, a young graduate student in anthropology at UCLA named Joe Henrich traveled to Peru to carry out some fieldwork among the Machiguenga, an indigenous people who live north of Machu Picchu in the Amazon basin. The Machiguenga had traditionally been horticulturalists who lived in single-family, thatch-roofed houses in small hamlets composed of clusters of extended families. For sustenance, they relied on local game and produce from small-scale farming. They shared with their kin but rarely traded with outside groups.

While the setting was fairly typical for an anthropologist, Henrich’s research was not. Rather than practice traditional ethnography, he decided to run a behavioral experiment that had been developed by economists. Henrich used a “game”—along the lines of the famous prisoner’s dilemma—to see whether isolated cultures shared with the West the same basic instinct for fairness. In doing so, Henrich expected to confirm one of the foundational assumptions underlying such experiments, and indeed underpinning the entire fields of economics and psychology: that humans all share the same cognitive machinery—the same evolved rational and psychological hardwiring.

...

When he began to run the game it became immediately clear that Machiguengan behavior was dramatically different from that of the average North American. To begin with, the offers from the first player were much lower. In addition, when on the receiving end of the game, the Machiguenga rarely refused even the lowest possible amount. “It just seemed ridiculous to the Machiguenga that you would reject an offer of free money,” says Henrich. “They just didn’t understand why anyone would sacrifice money to punish someone who had the good luck of getting to play the other role in the game.”

...

Henrich had thought he would be adding a small branch to an established tree of knowledge. It turned out he was sawing at the very trunk. He began to wonder: What other certainties about “human nature” in social science research would need to be reconsidered when tested across diverse populations?

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Reply Why Americans are the weirdest people in the world (Original post)
Recursion Feb 2013 OP
msongs Feb 2013 #1
immoderate Feb 2013 #2
GiveMeFreedom Feb 2013 #3
matwilson Feb 2013 #4
Quantess Feb 2013 #5

Response to Recursion (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 02:19 PM

1. interesting read, thanks for posting it nt

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 02:52 PM

2. Great article.

Funny this came just after I responded to an email from a libertarian friend who just claimed that liberals are "anti-intellectual," when I pointed out that liberalism correlates with education level. I'm going to give him this article to interpret for me.

--imm

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:34 PM

3. Marking to read later

looks quite interesting. I have to take my kid to the dentist this afternoon, so I'll add this to my evening reads. Thank you.



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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 02:41 PM

5. Interesting. Thanks for posting it.

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