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Third-party punishment and social norms

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  • Ernst Fehr

    (University of Zurich & CEPR)

  • Urs Fischbacher

    (University of Zurich)

Abstract

We examine the characteristics and relative strength of third-party sanctions in a series of experiments. We hypothesize that egalitarian distribution norms and cooperation norms apply in our experiments, and that third parties, whose economic payoff is unaffected by the norm violation, may be willing to enforce these norms although the enforcement is costly for them. Almost two-thirds of the third parties indeed punished the violation of the distribution norm and their punishment increased the more the norm was violated. Likewise, up to roughly 60% of the third parties punished violations of the cooperation norm. Thus, our results show that the notion of strong reciprocity extends to the sanctioning behavior of ‘‘unaffected’’ third parties. In addition, these experiments suggest that thirdparty punishment games are powerful tools for studying the characteristics and the content of social norms. Further experiments indicate that second parties, whose economic payoff is reduced by the norm violation, punish the violation much more strongly than do third parties.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/exp/papers/0409/0409002.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0409002.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 29 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0409002

Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 25
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

Related research

Keywords: Social norm; Sanction; Punishment; Strong reciprocity; Social preference; Third party;

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References

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