Sex differences in cooperativeness—An experiment with Buryats in Southern Siberia
We report on an experimental study that was set up to reveal differences in the tendencies of men and women to cooperate in same-sex interactions. Former studies on this subject were mostly conducted in industrialized modern societies. In contrast, we tested the cooper- ation tendency among Buryats, a people from Southern Siberia of Mongolian origin. All sub- jects participated in (1) one iterated Public Goods Game in a group of four individuals of the same sex and (2) four one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma games with different partners of the same sex. The interactions were in a face-to-face setting, but any intentional communication during the experiments was prohibited. We found that Buryat men were more cooperative than Buryat women in both types of same-sex interactions. In particular, the fraction of men employing a strategy of unconditional cooperation in the iterated Public Goods Game was much higher (36%) than the fraction of unconditional cooperators among women (21%). In general, the behavior of men was less context dependent than the behavior of women. In both sexes, individuals who were more cooperative in one type of game tended to be more cooperative in the other type of game. Although direct communication was prohibited, the interaction partners in the Prisoner’s Dilemma games employed the same strategy much more frequently than expected by chance. We conclude that, even among strangers, the exchange of subtle signals is sufficient to coordinate strategic decisions.