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Science. 2010 Mar 19;327(5972):1480-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1182238.

Markets, religion, community size, and the evolution of fairness and punishment.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada. henrich@psych.ubc.ca

Erratum in

  • Science. 2011 Jun 17;332(6036):1381.

Abstract

Large-scale societies in which strangers regularly engage in mutually beneficial transactions are puzzling. The evolutionary mechanisms associated with kinship and reciprocity, which underpin much of primate sociality, do not readily extend to large unrelated groups. Theory suggests that the evolution of such societies may have required norms and institutions that sustain fairness in ephemeral exchanges. If that is true, then engagement in larger-scale institutions, such as markets and world religions, should be associated with greater fairness, and larger communities should punish unfairness more. Using three behavioral experiments administered across 15 diverse populations, we show that market integration (measured as the percentage of purchased calories) positively covaries with fairness while community size positively covaries with punishment. Participation in a world religion is associated with fairness, although not across all measures. These results suggest that modern prosociality is not solely the product of an innate psychology, but also reflects norms and institutions that have emerged over the course of human history.

PMID:
20299588
DOI:
10.1126/science.1182238
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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