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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiao, Erte, 2013. "Profit-seeking punishment corrupts norm obedience," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 321-344.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:77:y:2013:i:1:p:321-344
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2012.10.010
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Punishment; Norms; Corruption; Sender–receiver game; Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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