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Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
With tea leaves still steeping in its harbor, Boston is the cradle of American independence. Yet the students wending through its cobblestone streets are remarkably cooperative, finds a study in the March 7, 2008, issue of Science.
Put four Boston students—all strangers—in a game where they must distribute tokens among themselves using rules that reward both selfish and cooperative moves; allow them to punish each other by taking back tokens (albeit at a cost to themselves); and then watch the chips fall. The students not only penalize freeloaders—that is, players who don’t give enough tokens to the group—but also respond to each other’s punishment by giving more to the group in subsequent rounds. So do students in western European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark.
But half a world away, in the more collectivist cultures of Istanbul, Turkey; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Muscat, Oman, the play