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The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment

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  • Astrid Hopfensitz
  • Ernesto Reuben

Abstract

This article experimentally explores how the enforcement of cooperative behaviour in a social dilemma is facilitated through institutional as well as emotional mechanisms. Recent studies emphasise the importance of anger and its role in motivating individuals to punish free riders. However, we find that anger also triggers retaliatory behaviour by the punished individuals. This makes the enforcement of a cooperative norm more costly. We show that in addition to anger, 'social' emotions like guilt need to be present for punishment to be an effective deterrent of uncooperative actions. They play a key role by subduing the desire of punished individuals to retaliate and by motivating them to behave more cooperatively in the future. Copyright � The Author(s). Journal compilation � Royal Economic Society 2009.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 119 (2009)
Issue (Month): 540 (October)
Pages: 1534-1559

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:540:p:1534-1559

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  1. Ernesto Reuben & Frans van Winden, 2006. "Reciprocity and Emotions when Reciprocators Know each other," CESifo Working Paper Series 1674, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  14. Matthias Cinyabuguma & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2004. "On Perverse and Second-Order Punishment in Public Goods Experiments with Decentralized Sanctioning," Working Papers 2004-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  15. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
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  17. Nikos Nikiforakis, 2004. "Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?," Experimental 0403001, EconWPA.
  18. Jeffrey P. Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2012. "Norm Enforcement: Anger, Indignation, Or Reciprocity?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 555-572, 05.
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