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Anonymous Rituals

Hugh-Jones, David and Reinstein, David (2009) Anonymous Rituals. Working Paper. University of Essex, Department of Economics, Discussion Papers 670.

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Abstract

Religion and ritual have been characterized as costly ways for conditional cooperators to signal their type, and thus identify and interact with one another. But an effective signal may be prohibitively expensive: if the cost of participation is too small, freeriders may send the signal and behave selfishly later. However, if the ritual reveals only the average level of signaling in a group, free-riders can behave selfishly without being detected, and even a low cost signal can separate types. While individuals cannot be screened out, members can learn the group’s profile of types. Under specified conditions, this information gain leads to greater cooperation and hence increases expected welfare. Furthermore, if crowding is unimportant relative to the conditional cooperation term, anonymous rituals will be preferred to ones which reveal individuals’ behavior. Examples of anonymous institutions include church collections, voting, music, dance, and military customs.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2012 20:58
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2014 09:19
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/2932

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