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Where Do Social Norms Come From?: The Example of Communal Sharing

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Where do social norms come from? Part of the answer must surely lie in such norms' ability to support individual adaptive success in local ecologies. This theme is dominant in analyses of social behavior by economic game theorists and behavioral-ecology researchers, but it has been neglected by psychologists. An illustration of the methods and advantages of the adaptationist approach to understanding the emergence of social norms is provided. Some surprising behavioral results from modern industrial societies that reflect social-sharing norms of modern hunter-gatherer societies are consistent with our adaptive analysis.

Keywords: adaptation; evolutionary game; local ecologies; social norm

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan; 2: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; and 3: Center for Decision Research, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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