This exploratory study tries to interpret the results of a test of altruism among almost 200 children from four small-scale societies in Belize, Kenya, Nepal, and American Samoa. Samoan children and, to a lesser extent, Nepalese Newar children were altruistic in a dictator game test. We considered evidence that the four settlements varied according to a collectivistic dimension and that such collectivism may have strongly influenced responses to the test. Not only did test results correspond fully to degree of community collectivism across the four cultures (rank-order correlation coefficient = 1.00, p < .05, N = 4), but Samoan children also scored at the highest level across each age group from 3 to 9 years of age, and the Nepalese Newar participants scored at the second highest level at all ages. We posit that social and material conditions in Samoa and Nepal were likely sources of collectivism and, concomitantly, the strong altruistic tendencies but acknowledge that in exploratory research there will always be issues concerning interpretation.
Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of Comparative Social Science – SAGE
Published: Jul 1, 2018
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