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

See all articles by Bart J. Wilson

Bart J. Wilson

Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy; Chapman University - Economic Science Institute (ESI); Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Samuel Harris

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute

Date Written: September 14, 2015

Abstract

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

Wilson, Bart J. and Harris, Samuel, Language and Cooperation in Hominin Scavenging (September 14, 2015). Evolution and Human Behavior 38(3), 376-396, 2017.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2636982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2636982

Bart J. Wilson (Contact Author)

Chapman University - Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www1.chapman.edu/~bjwilson/

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute (ESI) ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
(714) 628-7306 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www1.chapman.edu/~bjwilson/

Samuel Harris

Chapman University - Economic Science Institute ( email )

One University Dr.
Orange, CA 92866
United States

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