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Intersticios sociales

versión On-line ISSN 2007-4964


BERNAL LOPEZ, José Luis  y  ALPUCHE DE LA CRUZ, Ezequiel. Homo Reciprocans: Builder of Institutions. Intersticios sociales [online]. 2020, n.19, pp.7-37.  Epub 23-Feb-2020. ISSN 2007-4964.

The aim of this paper is to analyze how the cooperative traits of human beings (homo reciprocans) allow the design, implementation and sustainability of society’s institutions. To this end, it undertakes a theoretical journey through the motivations that determine decision-making in humans. After that, a series of empirical works are reviewed which corroborate the affirmation that motivational monism does not suffice to explain the complex processes of human decision-making. We thus turn to the analysis of certain theoretical postulates which argue that human actions derive from multiple motivations and vary widely in their degree of intensity, influenced as they are by context, experience and interaction. This review covers the theories of institutional design, rational choice, complexity, and cooperation, which show that humans are strongly motivated by strong reciprocity (i.e., cooperation with those who cooperate with us) and negative reciprocity (altruistic punishment of opportunists), but averse to inequality. These aspects of behavior can be seen as the mechanisms that enable human cooperation. However, sustaining cooperation requires incentives; that is, sanctions and filters that guide individual behavior towards what is deemed socially acceptable. Hence, reciprocity, added to sanctions and filters, generates the bases of what is called social capital.

Palabras llave : cooperation; reciprocity; institutions; altruism.

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