Does civilization cause discontentment among indigenous Amazonians? Test of empirical data from the Tsimane' of Bolivia

Ricardo Godoy*, Elizabeth Zeinalova, Victoria Reyes-García, Tomás Huanca, Holly Kosiewicz, William R. Leonard, Susan Tanner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the pervasiveness of international trade, the effects of trade opening on the psyche have received scant attention. We present three hypotheses about the likely effects of trade opening on the following five dimensions of the psyche: mirth (smiles), anger, addiction, stress, and regret. To test the hypotheses we use a survey of ∼605 people ≥16. years of age from a highly autarkic native Amazonian society of foragers and farmers in Bolivia (Tsimane') with high levels of impulsivity. As explanatory variables we use four measures of trade opening and a wide range of controls. Regret at buying durable assets during the previous year and addiction bore a positive association with two measures of trade opening: monetary income in the last 2 weeks and outstanding monetary debts owed to one or owed to the rest of the world. International trade theory predicts that trade opening expands choices in consumption, but among impulsive people in a highly autarkic society, more choice can beget more addiction and buyer's regret. We found no association between trade opening and smiles, anger, or stress, consistent with recent findings from industrial societies suggesting weak or ambiguous links between monetary income and these indicators of subjective well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-598
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Amazon
  • Bolivia
  • Markets
  • Psyche
  • Trade opening
  • Tsimane'
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics

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