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Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone

Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone Neoclassical theory posits an undifferentiated economic agent whose self-interested behavior promotes a tendency to free ride in the provision of public goods. Challenges to this rigid portrayal of human character have come from a variety of directions. A dozen years ago Gerald Marwell and Ruth Ames conducted experiments which showed that (virtually all male) economic graduate students tended to free ride significantly more than a mixed population of high school students. In this paper, we argue that gender may also influence the degree to which humans act in a self-interested versus cooperative manner. We test this hypothesis by replicating the Marwell and Ames experiments using a similar, albeit simplified, methodology, with a sample of only college students separated into economists and non-economists. After controlling for group size, gender, and exposure to economics courses, we find that a key factor affecting the level of cooperation is gender. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Feminist Economics Taylor & Francis

Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone

Feminist Economics , Volume 2 (1): 21 – Mar 1, 1996

Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone

Feminist Economics , Volume 2 (1): 21 – Mar 1, 1996

Abstract

Neoclassical theory posits an undifferentiated economic agent whose self-interested behavior promotes a tendency to free ride in the provision of public goods. Challenges to this rigid portrayal of human character have come from a variety of directions. A dozen years ago Gerald Marwell and Ruth Ames conducted experiments which showed that (virtually all male) economic graduate students tended to free ride significantly more than a mixed population of high school students. In this paper, we argue that gender may also influence the degree to which humans act in a self-interested versus cooperative manner. We test this hypothesis by replicating the Marwell and Ames experiments using a similar, albeit simplified, methodology, with a sample of only college students separated into economists and non-economists. After controlling for group size, gender, and exposure to economics courses, we find that a key factor affecting the level of cooperation is gender.

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References (43)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1466-4372
eISSN
1354-5701
DOI
10.1080/738552683
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Neoclassical theory posits an undifferentiated economic agent whose self-interested behavior promotes a tendency to free ride in the provision of public goods. Challenges to this rigid portrayal of human character have come from a variety of directions. A dozen years ago Gerald Marwell and Ruth Ames conducted experiments which showed that (virtually all male) economic graduate students tended to free ride significantly more than a mixed population of high school students. In this paper, we argue that gender may also influence the degree to which humans act in a self-interested versus cooperative manner. We test this hypothesis by replicating the Marwell and Ames experiments using a similar, albeit simplified, methodology, with a sample of only college students separated into economists and non-economists. After controlling for group size, gender, and exposure to economics courses, we find that a key factor affecting the level of cooperation is gender.

Journal

Feminist EconomicsTaylor & Francis

Published: Mar 1, 1996

Keywords: Gender; cooperative behavior; free rider; altruism; public goods

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