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Profit-seeking punishment corrupts norm obedience

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  • Xiao, Erte

Abstract

Punishment typically involves depriving violators of resources they own such as money or labor. These resources can become revenue for authorities and thus motivate profit-seeking punishment. In this paper, we design a novel experiment to provide direct evidence on the role punishment plays in communicating norms. Importantly, this allows us to provide experimental evidence indicating that if people know that enforcers can benefit monetarily by punishing, they no longer view punishment as signaling a norm violation. The result is a substantial degradation of punishmentʼs ability to influence behavior. Our findings draw attention to the detrimental effect of profit-seeking enforcement on the efficacy of punishment.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 77 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 321-344

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:77:y:2013:i:1:p:321-344

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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Keywords: Punishment; Norms; Corruption; Sender–receiver game; Experiment;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2012. "Laws and Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 6290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Xiao, Erte & Houser, Daniel, 2011. "Punish in public," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 1006-1017, August.
  3. Tan, Fangfang & Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Peer punishment with third-party approval in a social dilemma game," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 589-591.
  4. Roberto Galbiatiy & Karl Schlagz & Joel van der Weele, 2010. "Sanctions that Signal: an Experiment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000001104, David K. Levine.
  5. Marco Faillo & Daniela Grieco & Luca Zarri, 2010. "Legitimate Punishment, Feedback, and the Enforcement of Cooperation," Working Papers 16/2010, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  6. Daniela Grieco & Marco Faillo & Luca Zarri, 2013. "Top Contributors as Punishers," Working Papers 24/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  7. Xiao, Erte & Tan, Fangfang, 2013. "Justification and Legitimate Punishment," MPRA Paper 47154, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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