Valuation Study

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Cooperative Behavior and Economic Rationality


Medium: Animals, Plants and/or Others

Country: Thailand

Analytical Framework(s): Behavioral/Experimental Economics

Study Date: 2011

Publication Date: 2014

Major Result(s)

Study Note: This study found positive correlations among the results of the three experiments looked into, implying that people with more trust behavior tended to be more altruistic and cooperative and vice-versa. This finding was supported by earlier studies that found that each experiment did not predict only one otherregarding behavior.

Study Details

Reference: Rawadee Jarungrattapong and Suparee Boonmanunt. 2014. Altruism, Cooperation and Trust: Other-regarding Behavior and Collective Actions in Thailand. EEPSEA Research Report, No. 2014-RR2.

Summary: This study tried to answer how well experiment measures for other-regarding behavior could generalize real behavior or enable it to be called the external validity. The study combined the results of three experiments, namely the dictator game, the trust game, and the public good game, as proxies of other-regarding behavior and actual collective behavior of villagers in coastal conservation activities. Results were derived from the survey questions of attitudinal trust measures in the General Social Survey and from past behavioral trust measures as used by existing literature.

Site Characteristics: Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakarn, and Bangkok (Bang Khun Thian district) share the same coastline. These are considered "hot spot" areas because they are the most severely eroded coastal areas in Thailand. Among all the sub-districts in Samut Sakhon province, the Kok Kham sub-district ranks first in terms of annual coastal erosion rate during 2002-2007. Some Kok Kham villagers have been shown to cooperate with each other in conserving the coastal areas. Due to budgetary and time constraints, this study focused on two Kok Kham villages, namely: Village Nos. 3 and 8. In 2009, Village Nos. 3 and 8 had 195 households and 453 households, respectively. The major economic activities in the study sites are aquaculture and small-scale fisheries. The Kok Kham sub-district in Samut Sakhon province served as the study site because villagers in this area have acted collectively to conserve the coastal area; this is a behavior rarely found in other neighboring areas. The actual voluntary contributions to the three collective actions (i.e., bamboo dike building, mangrove afforestation, and coastal surveillance) were used as the proxy of cooperative behavior. A total of 96 villagers were recruited from the villagers in the study site to serve as participants.

Comments: Results of the three experiments were not significantly correlated with actual collective actions, and answers to survey questions on attitudinal trust and past behavior trust did not appear to predict participation rates for actual contribution. These results suggest that the context-free standard game as manifested in the three experiments used may not be able to generalize cooperative behavior in real life. The authors also mentioned that unlike many earlier studies that used students as a participant pool, this study used data from a sample of "non-students" or "villagers" in rural Thailand to represent actual behavior.