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First Impressions are More Important than Early Intervention Qualifying Broken Windows Theory in the Lab

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  • Martin Beckenkamp
  • Christoph Engel

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

  • Andreas Glöckner
  • Bernd Irlenbusch
  • Heike Hennig-Schmidt
  • Sebastian Kube
  • Michael Kurschilgen
  • Alexander Morell
  • Andreas Nicklisch
  • Hans-Theo Normann
  • Emanuel Towfigh

Abstract

Broken Windows: the metaphor has changed New York and Los Angeles. Yet it is far from undisputed whether the broken windows policy was causal for reducing crime. In a series of lab experiments we put two components of the theory to the test. We show that first impressions and early punishment of antisocial behaviour are independently and jointly causal for cooperativeness. The effect of good first impressions and of early vigilance cannot be explained with, but adds to, participants’ initial level of benevolence. Mere impression management is not strong enough to maintain cooperation. Cooperation stabilizes if good first impressions are combined with some risk of sanctions. Yet if we control for first impressions, early vigilance only has a small effect. The effect vanishes over time.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2009_21.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision: Jan 2013
Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2009_21

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  1. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2005. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1032-1053, October.
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  9. Corman, Hope & Mocan, Naci, 2005. "Carrots, Sticks, and Broken Windows," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 235-66, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Theodore Eisenberg & Christoph Engel, 2012. "Assuring Adequate Deterrence in Tort: A Public Good Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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