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Cultural Variation in Focal Points for Coordination and Cooperation

Date: Friday, Mar 22, 2024, 10:00 ~ 11:30
Speaker: Matthew Chao (Williams College)
Location: Zoom을 통한 온라인 세미나

Abstract: Recent literature highlights that social choice in laboratory games can vary substantially across societies, and researchers speculate this is partially driven by cultural variation in focal points for decisionmaking. Here, we provide the first direct evidence of a focal point that influences social choice in one culture but not another. In Confucian-influenced cultures, and especially in South Korea, social structure is influenced by age hierarchies. In fact, age hierarchies are integrated directly into Korean linguistics, with age differences of even just one year dictating the respect levels, titles, formalities, and grammar that must be used between two individuals. Therefore, even small age differences are salient and relevant in virtually all Korean social contexts. This paper examines the role of age information on social choice in Korea and the US, using a coordination game, the Stag Hunt (SH), an a cooperation game, the Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD). Age information increased coordination in SH and cooperation in PD among Korean participants, primarily by increasing reciprocity to expected partner choices. Conversely, age information had 0% effects in American participants, thus providing the literature’s first direct evidence of a culturespecific focal point for social decision-making. Moreover, baseline cooperation rates in PD were higher in the US than in Korea, but these differences disappeared once age was provided. This is because without age information, Korean participants were deprived of information that typically guides their decisionmaking. This cautions that cross-cultural researchers must account for culture-specific focal points to avoid asymmetry in external validity when comparing across societies.

※ 본 세미나는 VEAEBES(Virtual East Asia Experimental and Behavioral Economics Seminar Series) 주최로 열리는 세미나 입니다.
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