IFREE Summer Scholar’s research on Language and Scavenging

Samuel Harris, IFREE Summer Scholar from 2012 – 2015, is working with IFREE mentor, Bart Wilson, on a study entitled, “Language and Cooperation in Hominin Scavenging.”

Read the abstract from the working paper:

“Bickerton (2009, 2014) hypothesizes that language emerged as the solution to a scavenging problem faced by proto-humans. We design a virtual world to explore how people use words to persuade others to work together for a common end. By gradually reducing the vocabularies that the participants can use, we trace the process of solving the hominin scavenging problem. Our experiment changes the way we think about social dilemmas. Instead of asking how does a group overcome the self-interest of its constituents, the question becomes, how do constituents persuade one another to work together for a common end that yields a common benefit?”

Continue reading the working paper online.

For more information about the Summer Scholar Program, please visit the Economic Science Institute’s webpage and the IFREE-Sponsored Summer Scholars Program webpage.