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Altruistically Inclined?: The Behavioral Sciences, by Alexander J. Field

By Alexander J. Field

Alexander J. box is the Michel and Mary Orradre Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University.

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Additional resources for Altruistically Inclined?: The Behavioral Sciences, Evolutionary Theory, and the Origins of Reciprocity

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Subjects from a culture that lacks color words learn such words better if they correspond to these colors . These focal points have a neurobiological substrate in the sensitivities in the retina's color cones and the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus, where nerve cells carrying information between the eye and the visual cor- 20 Altruistically Inclined? tex are divided into four types, apparently corresponding to the four prin­ cipal colors humans discriminate (Berlin and Kay 1 969; Lumsden and Wilson 1 9 8 3 , 65-67) .

Yet in spite of what is apparently an unfavorable benefit-cost ratio, tens of millions of people vote in national elections . Participation rates in the United States have fallen from a peak of 80 percent of eligible voters at the end of the nineteenth century. But rates today continue in the range of 50 percent, in spite of a substan4. The effect of preplay communication existed only when players communicated about the choice and believed the results of cooperation would go to the group of which they were part.

When games are repeated a fixed and known number of times, defecting at every stage remains the unique Nash equilibrium, although the strategy is no longer strictly dominant. If there is some prob­ ability one's counterparty might not be entirely rational, or might tremble a bit, it could pay (be rational) to employ other strategies (Kreps et al. 1 982) . This conclusion does not, however, follow if both players are assumed rational. Nevertheless, many sophisticated subjects cooperate throughout much of a finitely repeated game, the Alchian-Williams pairing a case in point.

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