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Honor among thieves: Cooperation as a strategic response to functional unpleasantness

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  • Heller, William B.
  • Sieberg, Katri K.
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    Abstract

    The assumption of self-interested behavior makes it difficult to explain cooperation among strangers. Economics experiments and game-theoretic analyses suggest that cooperation can arise from a willingness to punish noncooperative behavior, even at personal cost. Such behavior is often based on the notion that people who punish noncooperators value cooperation in itself. We show, by contrast, that people who like to cheat but also punish other cheaters - people who are Unpleasant, but who also have a strategic desire to avoid being punished themselves - can form the basis for widespread, even complete cooperation in society. Ultimately, such Unpleasant but strategic types can create conditions where all cooperate even though everyone would prefer to cheat.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V97-4XRJX1T-1/2/5e534af0a892e8fedff77db0180854a4
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 26 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 351-362

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:26:y:2010:i:3:p:351-362

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

    Related research

    Keywords: Evolutionary analysis Cheaters Cooperation;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    4. Berentsen, Aleksander & Bruegger, Esther & Loertscher, Simon, 2008. "On cheating, doping and whistleblowing," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 415-436, June.
    5. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Fehr, Ernst & Henrich, Joseph, 2003. "Is Strong Reciprocity a Maladaption? On the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Altruism," CEPR Discussion Papers 3860, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
    8. Joseph Henrich, 2000. "Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior? Ultimatum Game Bargaining among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 973-979, September.
    9. William Heller & K. Sieberg, 2008. "Functional unpleasantness: the evolutionary logic of righteous resentment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 399-413, June.
    10. Stergios Skaperdas, 2001. "The political economy of organized crime: providing protection when the state does not," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 173-202, November.
    11. Grossman, Herschel I. & Kim, Minseong, 2000. "Predators, moral decay, and moral revivals," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 173-187, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bjornskov, Christian & Bogetic, Zeljko & Hillman, Arye L. & Popovic, Milenko, 2014. "Trust and identity in a small, post-socialist, post-crisis society," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6828, The World Bank.
    2. Goel, Rajeev K. & Nelson, Michael A. & Naretta, Michael A., 2012. "The internet as an indicator of corruption awareness," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 64-75.

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