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THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN': The effect of institutions on behavior, cooperation, emotional attachment and sentiment at 26,000ft

By David A. Savage, Benno Torgler

CREMA - Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, 2013


This paper attempts to determine if the introduction of a competing social institution has had a significant effect and shifted the pro-social behavior in the extreme (life-and-death) environment of mountaineering in the Himalayan Mountains over the last sixty years. We apply an analytic narratives approach to empirically investigate the link between death, success and the introduced social institution (commercialization). We use the Hawley and Salisbury (2007) Himalayan Database to determine if the introduction of this social institution is responsible for the decline in pro-social and altruistic behaviors. The results show that the change helping behavior is strongly correlated with the on mass introduction of commercialization. The results show a weakening of the prosocial behavior in the more “traditional climbers” in the modern period, created by a crowding out effect, which may have lead to the break down in prosocial behavior and the rise of anti-social behavior. Additionally, the results indicate that the prosocial behavior of the non-commercial groups in recent times may in fact be driven by the behavior of the Sherpa and not that of the climbers.

The study may be accessed at Savage-Torgler-CREMA [0.5kb Pdf].