Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments

Published on Sep 1, 2000in The American Economic Review4.10
· DOI :10.1257/aer.90.4.980
Ernst Fehr98
Estimated H-index: 98
Simon Gächter48
Estimated H-index: 48
This paper provides evidence that free riders are heavily punished even if punishment is costly and does not provide any material benefits for the punisher. The more free riders negatively deviate from the group standard the more they are punished. As a consequence, the existence of an opportunity for costly punishment causes a large increase in cooperation levels because potential free riders face a credible threat. We show, in particular, that in the presence of a costly punishment opportunity almost complete cooperation can be achieved and maintained although, under the standard assumptions of rationality and selfishness, there should be no cooperation at all. We also show that free riding causes strong negative emotions among cooperators. The intensity of these emotions is the stronger the more the free riders deviate from the group standard. Our results provide, therefore, support for the hypothesis that emotions are guarantors of credible threats.
  • References (58)
  • Citations (2482)
Published on Oct 1, 2007in Economic Inquiry1.26
Martin Sefton29
Estimated H-index: 29
(University of Nottingham),
Robert Shupp14
Estimated H-index: 14
(MSU: Michigan State University),
James M. Walker43
Estimated H-index: 43
(IU: Indiana University Bloomington)
A growing number of field and experimental studies focus on the institutional arrangements by which individuals are able to solve collective action problems. Important in this research is the role of reciprocity and institutions that facilitate cooperation via opportunities for monitoring, sanctioning, and rewarding others. Sanctions represent a cost to both the participant imposing the sanction and the individual receiving the sanction. Rewards represent a zero sum transfer from participants gi...
Published on Apr 1, 2007in Economic Inquiry1.26
Rachel Croson46
Estimated H-index: 46
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)
"Theories of commitment, altruism, and reciprocity have been invoked to explain and describe behavior in public goods and social dilemma situations. Commitment has been used to explain behaviors like water conservation and voting. Altruism has been applied to explain contributions to charities and intergenerational transfers and bequests. Reciprocity has been invoked to explain gift exchange and labor market decisions. This paper describes a set of experiments, which distinguish between these co...
Published on Apr 1, 2006in Journal of Economic Psychology1.56
Joep Sonnemans32
Estimated H-index: 32
(UvA: University of Amsterdam),
Frans van Dijk7
Estimated H-index: 7
(MoJ: United Kingdom Ministry of Justice),
Frans vanWinden32
Estimated H-index: 32
(UvA: University of Amsterdam)
Economic behavior often takes place in small groups of people interacting with each other (like work teams and boards of directors, but also social networks and neighborhoods). Characteristic of such interaction is the development of (affective) interpersonal relationships, or social ties. The embeddedness of economic behavior in networks of social ties seems to have a profound impact on the outcome of economic processes. In this paper, we investigate experimentally the development of social tie...
Published on Jan 1, 2003in Perspektiven Der Wirtschaftspolitik
Falk Armin50
Estimated H-index: 50
(UZH: University of Zurich)
Public opinion and politics are strongly influenced by economic theory and economic policy advice. Most of the underlying economic reasoning is based on the assumptions of a universal homo oeconomicus. Whether people act according to these assumptions is an empirical question, however. In this paper we report evidence of controlled laboratory experiments, which clearly indicates that contrary to the standard assumptions, reciprocity and fairness are central motives of human behavior. This has im...
Published on Nov 1, 2002in The Economic Journal2.93
Samuel Bowles66
Estimated H-index: 66
(UMass: University of Massachusetts Amherst),
Herbert Gintis53
Estimated H-index: 53
(UMass: University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Community governance is the set of small group social interactions that, with market and state, determine economic outcomes. We argue (i) community governance addresses some common market and state failures but typically relies on insider-outsider distinctions that may be morally repugnant and economically costly; (ii) the individual motivations supporting community governance are not captured by either selfishness or altruism; (iii) communities, markets and states are complements, not substitut...
Published on Jan 1, 2002in Managerial and Decision Economics
Jeremy Clark12
Estimated H-index: 12
(Cant.: University of Canterbury)
Private charities often publicise generous individual contributions or contributors, possibly to encourage others to give. In contrast, public good experiments used to study voluntary giving commonly tell participants only of total contributions. This paper reports an experimental test of the effect on contributions of supplying additional selective information. A control treatment is run that reveals only total contributions over ten one-shot decision rounds. This is compared to a second treatm...
Published on Nov 1, 2001in Journal of Theoretical Biology1.88
Herbert Gintis53
Estimated H-index: 53
(UMass: University of Massachusetts Amherst),
Eric Alden Smith35
Estimated H-index: 35
(UW: University of Washington),
Samuel Bowles66
Estimated H-index: 66
(UMass: University of Massachusetts Amherst)
We propose an explanation of cooperation among unrelated members of a social group in which cooperation evolves because it constitutes an honest signal of the member’s quality as a mate, coalition partner or competitor, and therefore results in advantageous alliances for those signaling in this manner. Our model is framed as a multi-player public goods game that involves no repeated or assortative interactions, so that non-cooperation would be a dominant strategy if there were no signaling bene"...
Published on Jun 1, 2001in Experimental Economics2.01
David L. Dickinson21
Estimated H-index: 21
(USU: Utah State University)
This paper reports on the use of carrot (positive) and stick (negative) incentives as methods of increasing effort among members of work teams. We study teams of four members in a laboratory environment in which giving effort towards the team goal is simulated by eliciting voluntary contributions towards the provision of a public good. We test the efficiency-improving properties of four distinct environments: monetary prizes given to high contributors versus monetary fines assessed to low contri...
Published on May 1, 2001in American Journal of Sociology4.46
Jonathan Bendor25
Estimated H-index: 25
Piotr Swistak8
Estimated H-index: 8
(Stanford University)
Social norms that induce us to reward or punish people not for what they did to us but for what they did to other members of one’s group have long been thought as sine qua non sociological and thus impossible to explain in terms of rational choice. This article shows how social norms can be deductively derived from principles of (boundedly) rational choice as mechanisms that are necessary to stabilize behaviors in a large class of evolutionary games.
Published on Jan 1, 2001
Rachel Croson46
Estimated H-index: 46
Alchian and Demsetz's (1972) classic paper models team production as a public good. They claim detection of individual effort levels, rather than aggregate effort levels, reduces shirking (free riding). This chapter experimentally tests this claim. Participants are informed either about the individual contributions of others on their team or only about their team's total contribution. Average group contributions in the two treatments are the same. However, group contributions under individual fe...
Cited By2482
Published on 2019in Safety Science3.62
Sascha Meng2
Estimated H-index: 2
(KIT: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology),
Marcus Wiens3
Estimated H-index: 3
(KIT: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology),
Frank Schultmann22
Estimated H-index: 22
(KIT: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
Abstract We conducted an economic lab experiment to test for a two-player defender-attacker game the theoretical predictions and two variants of framing. We used framing to intensify the players’ perceived conflict of interests in the underlying defender-attacker game by uniformly shifting payoffs (endogenous framing) and modifying wording (exogenous framing). Participants played both roles (defender and attacker). Our results show two main effects, which need to be considered in future lab expe...
Published on Dec 1, 2019in Scientific Reports4.01
Ji Quan2
Estimated H-index: 2
(WUT: Wuhan University of Technology),
Junjun Zheng (WHU: Wuhan University)+ 1 AuthorsXiukang Yang2
Estimated H-index: 2
(WUT: Wuhan University of Technology)
Mechanisms and conditions for the spontaneous emergence of cooperation in multi-player social dilemma games remain an open question. This paper focuses on stochastic evolutionary optional public goods games with different exclusion strategies. We introduce four strategy types in the population, namely, cooperation, defection, loner and exclusion. Synchronous and asynchronous exclusion forms have been compared in finite-sized, well-mixed and structured populations. In addition, we verify that the...
Published on Jan 22, 2019in Scientific Reports4.01
Zsuzsa Danku5
Estimated H-index: 5
(MTA: Hungarian Academy of Sciences),
Matjaz Perc74
Estimated H-index: 74
(University of Maribor),
Attila Szolnoki54
Estimated H-index: 54
(MTA: Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
Cooperation is the cornerstone of human evolutionary success. Like no other species, we champion the sacrifice of personal benefits for the common good, and we work together to achieve what we are unable to achieve alone. Knowledge and information from past generations is thereby often instrumental in ensuring we keep cooperating rather than deteriorating to less productive ways of coexistence. Here we present a mathematical model based on evolutionary game theory that shows how using the past a...
Published on Dec 1, 2019in Ecological Economics4.28
Massimiliano Agovino10
Estimated H-index: 10
(University of Naples Federico II),
Massimiliano Cerciello3
Estimated H-index: 3
(University of Naples Federico II),
Gaetano Musella3
Estimated H-index: 3
(University of Naples Federico II)
Abstract Separate waste collection (SWC) is a policy priority for EU countries. This work investigates the effect of neighbour influence and cultural consumption on municipal SWC, with a twofold focus: first, it outlines a simple theoretical framework where the motivations underlying pro-environmental behaviours are influence by neighbour effects and cultural consumption. Second, it tests the theoretical results, implementing a quantile regression on Italian municipal data for 2012. The results ...
Published on Dec 1, 2019in Scientific Reports4.01
Chun-Lei Yang (Nanjing Audit University), Ching-Syang Jack Yue (National Chengchi University)
Assortative matching (AM) can be theoretically an effective means to facilitate cooperation. We designed a controlled lab experiment with three treatments on multi-round prisoner’s dilemma. With matching based on weighted history (WH) as surrogate for AM, we show that adding pro-social dummies to the WH treatment may significantly improve cooperation, compared to both the random matching and the WH treatment. In society where assortative matching is effective and promoted by the underlying cultu...
Published on 2019in Scientific Reports4.01
Valerio Capraro15
Estimated H-index: 15
(Lond: University of London),
Glorianna Jagfeld1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Stuttgart)
+ 2 AuthorsIris van de Pol2
Estimated H-index: 2
(UvA: University of Amsterdam)
The conflict between pro-self and pro-social behaviour is at the core of many key problems of our time, as, for example, the reduction of air pollution and the redistribution of scarce resources. For the well-being of our societies, it is thus crucial to find mechanisms to promote pro-social choices over egoistic ones. Particularly important, because cheap and easy to implement, are those mechanisms that can change people’s behaviour without forbidding any options or significantly changing their...
Published on 2019in Journal of Cleaner Production6.39
Gen Li1
Estimated H-index: 1
(TITech: Tokyo Institute of Technology),
Yefen Chen , Feimin Zhong (Hunan University)
Abstract Existing studies on consumer behavior show that consumers care about manufacturers' social responsibility and prefer to choose more environmentally friendly commodities. This study introduces the environmental consciousness to the traditional supply chain models by considering consumers' aversion to pollution in the utility function. Besides, this paper studies two market mechanisms to invoke consumers' environmental awareness by disclosing the pollution information publicly: the pollut...
Published on Aug 15, 2018in Journal of Public Economic Theory1.04
James Andreoni48
Estimated H-index: 48
(UCSD: University of California, San Diego),
Michael A. Kuhn19
Estimated H-index: 19
(UO: University of Oregon),
Larry Samuelson48
Estimated H-index: 48
(Yale University)
Published on Oct 1, 2019in Journal of Public Economics1.77
Attila Ambrus15
Estimated H-index: 15
(Duke University),
Ben Greiner12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UNSW: University of New South Wales)
Abstract In the context of repeated public good contribution games, we experimentally compare the institution of democratic punishment, where members of a group decide by majority voting whether to inflict punishment on another member, with individual peer-to-peer and dictatorial punishment institutions. Democratic punishment leads to more cooperation and higher average payoffs, both under perfect and imperfect monitoring of contributions. A comparison with dictatorial punishment suggests that t...
Published on Jun 1, 2019in NeuroImage5.81
Emanuele Lo Gerfo13
Estimated H-index: 13
Alessia Gallucci1
Estimated H-index: 1
(University of Milano-Bicocca)
+ 6 AuthorsLeonor Romero15
Estimated H-index: 15
(University of Milano-Bicocca)
Abstract Third parties punish, sacrificing personal interests, offenders who violate either fairness or cooperation norms. This behavior is defined altruistic punishment and the degree of punishment typically increases with the severity of the norm violation. An opposite and apparently paradoxical behavior, namely anti-social punishment, is the tendency to spend own money to punish cooperative or fair behaviors. Previous fMRI studies correlated punishment behavior with increased activation of br...
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