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The Gift and the Centipede

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

This paper addresses the similarity between behavioural economics and social anthropology with respect to approaches on repeated reciprocity. The case at hand is the application of the Centipede game to Marcel Mauss's concept of the Gift. In a Centipede game players interact in an alternating sequence of decisions to take or to pass an endowment. Mauss describes sequences of reciprocal giving in potlatch cultures, in which strict obligations determine choice options. The paper shows that models developed in behavioural economics, such as the Centipede game, can also be applied to prominent contexts in economic anthropology.

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