Language and Cooperation in Hominin Scavenging
Evolution and Human Behavior 38(3), 376-396, 2017.
38 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2015 Last revised: 8 May 2017
Date Written: September 14, 2015
Bickerton (2009, 2014) hypothesizes that language emerged as the solution to a scavenging problem faced by proto-humans. We design a virtual world to explore how people use words to persuade others to work together for a common end. By gradually reducing the vocabularies that the participants can use, we trace the process of solving the hominin scavenging problem. Our experiment changes the way we think about social dilemmas. Instead of asking how does a group overcome the self-interest of its constituents, the question becomes, how do constituents persuade one another to work together for a common end that yields a common benefit?
Keywords: language, cooperation, scavenging, experimental economics
JEL Classification: C92, D70, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation