Marginal Revolution: Globalization and the Expanding Moral Circle
... What is the effect of globalization on the moral circle? Does trade melt barriers and expand the moral circle or does globalization make "the other" a more salient division allowing politicians to demonize and control through xenophobia? ...
... The authors conclude:
...not only is living in a more globalized country associated with more cooperation at the world level, but the same relationship holds as the degree of individual global connectedness increases as well. The cosmopolitan hypothesis receives clear support from our experiments.
... our findings suggest that humans' basic “tribal social instincts” may be highly malleable to the influence of the processes of connectedness embedded in globalization. ...
Matt Ridely offers more evidence of this in The Rational Optimist. There is an experiment used in economic studies called the ultimatum game. There are two players. The first player is offered $1,000. He may keep it all or divide it between him and the other player. The second player can except the division of the money but neither player gets any money if he rejects the split.
From a purely economic standpoint, the second player should accept the split even if he is offered just one dollar. He still comes out one dollar ahead. Even if he isn't offered anything, he still isn't out any money. Yet when the experiment has been run in cultures around the world, the second player will veto the transaction if some minimum threshold of the distribution isn't met. Some degree of obligatory sharing seems universal.
What Ridley points out is that the distribution threshold varies considerably by culture. What makes the difference? Ridely says that people who live in advanced commercial economies are more generous toward the second player than are people from more tribal contexts. People from commercial economies are likely to offer something close to a 50/50 split. They have been socialised to value cooperation with complete strangers as they work to accomplish their ends. Yet studies done with remote tribes who engage in little trade show 85/15 splits were offered and accepted. A particularly interesting study was the whale-hunting Lamalera where a 42/58 split prevailed. Their society requires the coordination of large teams of hunters and by giving the second player more, the first player was building a social obligation to help down the road. (See Ridley's book 86-87.)