The circulation of worthless objects aids cooperation. An experiment inspired by the Kula
Giuseppe Danese () and
No 1703, CEEL Working Papers from Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia
Many anthropological records exist of apparently worthless objects used in traditional societies, often part of larger institutional arrangements that were instrumental in favoring cooperation and reducing conflict. The most famous examples of such objects are probably the Kula necklaces and armbands first described by B. Malinowski. In our experiment subjects can send a token to another participant before each round of a repeated public good game. We use as tokens a bracelet built by the participants, a piece of cardboard provided by the experimenter, and an object brought from home by the participants. Contributions to the public good in the treatments featuring a bracelet and cardboard are significantly higher than in a control study. The home object was not equally useful in increasing contributions. Notwithstanding the cheap talk nature of the decision to send the token, both sending and receiving the token are associated with a significant increase in contributions.
Keywords: Kula; worthless objects; cooperation; public goods games; signaling; kitoum (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 D01 H40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cdm, nep-exp and nep-hpe
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:trn:utwpce:1703
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in CEEL Working Papers from Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Marco Tecilla ().