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Peer punishment of acts of omission versus acts of commission in give and take social dilemmas


  • Ramalingam, Abhijit
  • Morales, Antonio J.
  • Walker, James M.


This study brings together two strands of experimental literature, “Give and Take” versions of strategically and payoff isomorphic linear public goods games and the effectiveness of peer punishment in promoting cooperation in finitely repeated fixed-group game settings. We find in the absence of the punishment institution, cooperation declines more rapidly in the Take game setting than the Give game setting. With punishment opportunities, however, cooperation increases more rapidly in the Take game setting. The net effect is that punishment leads to increases in efficiency in the Take game setting, but not in the Give game setting. This result is linked to the fact that low contributors in their respective groups are targeted for punishment more frequently in the Take game than in the Give game, a behavior that is consistent with acts of commission (taking) being judged more harshly than actions of omission (not giving).

Suggested Citation

  • Ramalingam, Abhijit & Morales, Antonio J. & Walker, James M., 2019. "Peer punishment of acts of omission versus acts of commission in give and take social dilemmas," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 133-147.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:164:y:2019:i:c:p:133-147
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.05.033

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    More about this item


    Peer punishment; Omission vs commission; Isomorphic social dilemmas; Experiment; Reciprocal preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods


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