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Competition for Trophies Triggers Male Generosity

Xiaofei (Sophia) Pan and Daniel Houser ()

No 1022, Working Papers from George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Abstract: Cooperation is indispensable in human societies, and much progress has been made towards understanding human pro-social decisions. Formal incentives, such as punishment, are suggested as potential effective approaches despite the fact that punishment can crowd out intrinsic motives for cooperation and detrimentally impact efficiency. At the same time, evolutionary biologists have long recognized that cooperation, especially food sharing, is typically efficiently organized in groups living on wild foods, even absent formal economic incentives. Despite its evident importance, the source of this voluntary compliance remains largely uninformed. Drawing on costly signaling theory, and in light of the widely established competitive nature of males, we hypothesize that unique and displayable rewards (trophies) out of competition may trigger male generosity in competitive social environments.

Keywords: cooperation; competition; gender; trophy; evolution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo and nep-soc
Date: 2011-04
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