Cooperation theories assume that interacting individuals can change their strategies under different expected payoffs, depending on their social status or social situations. When looking at sex differences in cooperation, the existing studies have found that the genders cooperate at similar frequencies. However, the majority of the data originate within Western human societies. In this paper, we explore whether there are gender differences in cooperation in China. An Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game with a punishment option was used to gather data about Southwest Chinese subjects in a culture in which men have a hierarchical advantage over women. Results indicate that men invested into partners significantly more than women did (34% ♂ vs. 24% ♀) while women, in turn, were more likely to defect (65% ♀ vs. 50% ♂). In this region, women have customarily held less economic power and they are used to obtain a payoff typically lower than men. We suggest that the women’s willingness to invest in cooperation has decreased throughout evolutionary time, providing us with an illustration of a culturally-driven shift towards a disparity in gender cooperation interests.
Pansini, R., Shi, L., & Wang, R. W. (2016). Women tend to defect in a social dilemma game in Southwest China. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166101