Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
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Evolutionists studying human cooperation disagree about how to best explain it. One view is that humans are predisposed to engage in costly cooperation and punishment of free-riders as a result of culture/gene coevolution via group selection. Alternatively, some researchers argue that context-specific cognitive mechanisms associated with traditional neo-Darwinian self- and kin-maximization models sufficiently explain all aspects of human cooperation and punishment. There has been a great deal of research testing predictions derived from both positions; still, researchers generally agree that more naturalistic data are needed to complement mathematical modeling and laboratory and field experiments. Most of these data have been obtained from small-scale forager and other societies, but modern intentional communities offer another productive source of information. This exploratory study describes context-specific patterns of punishment in 46 American intentional communities that cast doubt on the prediction that people are predisposed to punish free-riders in naturalistic interactions.


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