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Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions

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  • Armin Falk
  • Ernst Fehr
  • Urs Fischbacher

Abstract

This paper investigates the driving forces behind informal sanctions in cooperation games and the extent to which theories of fairness and reciprocity capture these forces. We find that cooperators' punishment is almost exclusively targeted toward the defectors, but the latter also impose a considerable amount of spiteful punishment on the cooperators. However, spiteful punishment vanishes if the punishers can no longer affect the payoff differences between themselves and the punished individual, whereas the cooperators even increase the resources devoted to punishment in this case. Our data also discriminate between different fairness principles. Fairness theories that are based on the assumption that players compare their own payoff to the group's average or the group's total payoff cannot explain the fact that cooperators target their punishment at the defectors. Fairness theories that assume that players aim to minimize payoff inequalities cannot explain the fact that cooperators punish defectors even if payoff inequalities cannot be reduced. Therefore, retaliation, i.e., the desire to harm those who committed unfair acts, seems to be the most important motive behind fairness-driven informal sanctions. Copyright The Econometric Society 2005.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 73 (2005)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 2017-2030

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:73:y:2005:i:6:p:2017-2030

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  1. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  2. 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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  9. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  12. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Mui, Vai-Lam, 1995. "The economics of envy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 311-336, May.
  14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  15. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
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  1. Lecture on Identity, Motivation and Incentives
    by Liam Delaney in Economics, Psychology and Policy on 2013-10-21 14:25:00
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