WHICH CULTURES PUNISH FREELOADERS? One study that uses the diversified pool of participants from the Mechanical Turk compares the punishment of freeloaders across cultures. The Economist article describes experiments in the West which “showed that people band together to reward co-operative behaviour and to punish those who refuse to contribute to the common good.” These experiments supported the theory that there is a universal instinct for cooperation in man which has evolved because of the survival advantages of cooperation. The experiments were based on pools who played “public-goods games” which permitted participants to punish those who refused to cooperate. Now experiments across cultures seem to show that the results from the West are different from those in other cultures: “In places like South Korea, Greece, Russia and Saudi Arabia, antisocial punishment proved to be almost as common as collaboration.” The conclusion is that freeloaders dominate unless there are rules which protect cooperators.

Of course, there should be a disclaimer that randomized studies can be replicated only about 80% of the time (and in this case, the results of earlier experiments could not be replicated in all cultures).

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