Personal and group incentives to invest in prosocial behavior: A study in the Bolivian Amazon

Victoria Reyes-García*, Ricardo Godoy, Vincent Vadez, Tomás Huanca, William R. Leonard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ethnographic evidence, empirical research, and results of experimental studies suggest that people across cultures invest in prosocial behavior, but little research addresses the relative importance of personal versus group incentives to invest in prosocial behavior. We estimate the relative weight of personal and group incentives for households to invest in prosocial behavior using two waves of panel data (2001 and 2002) from ca. 350 Tsimane' Amerindians, a for aging-farming society in the Bolivian Amazon. We found that some personal incentives bore a significant association with household decisions to display prosocial behavior. Consistent with previous research, we found that investments in prosocial behavior first rise and then decline with age, and that cash income bore a positive association with investments in prosocial behavior. We found no evidence that group incentives were associated with personal investments in prosocial behavior once we controlled for fixed attributes of villages, but those fixed attributes did explain a significant share of the variation in the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-101
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Anthropological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bolivia
  • Gift giving
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Reciprocity
  • Tsimane' Amerindians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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