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Altruistic punishment and the threat of feuds

  • Nikiforakis, Nikos
  • Engelmann, Dirk

Altruistic punishment may promote cooperation, but can also lead to costly feuds. We examine how the threat of feuds affects individuals' willingness to engage in altruistic punishment in a public good experiment in which the number of stages is determined by participants' actions. The design imposes minimal restrictions on who can punish whom and when, and therefore allows participants to use a range of punishment strategies. We find that participants recognize the threat of feuds and respond to it by employing strategies that prevent their breakout. When feuds can span several periods, the extent of altruistic punishment is greatly reduced. This leads to progressively lower levels of cooperation and earnings relative to a baseline treatment where punishment cannot be avenged.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 78 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 319-332

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:78:y:2011:i:3:p:319-332
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Nikos Nikiforakis & Dirk Engelmann, 2008. "Feuds in the Laboratory? A Social Dilemma Experiment," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1058, The University of Melbourne.
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "Punishing free-riders: How group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 31-51, July.
  4. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2010. "Feedback, punishment and cooperation in public good experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 689-702, March.
  5. David Masclet & Laurent Denant-Boèmont & Charles Noussair, 2006. "Punishment, Counterpunishment and Sanction Enforcement in a Social Dilemma Experiment," Working Papers halshs-00009664, HAL.
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  7. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Allen McDowell, 2003. "From the help desk: hurdle models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(2), pages 178-184, June.
  9. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "The Demand for Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0243, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  11. Cinyabuguma, Matthias & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2005. "Cooperation under the threat of expulsion in a public goods experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1421-1435, August.
  12. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2002. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Working Papers 2002-19, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Zephyr, 2010. "The city," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1-2), pages 154-155, February.
  14. Anderson, Christopher M. & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
  15. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2008. "Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 91-112, February.
  16. Nikos Nikiforakis & Hans-Theo Normann, 2008. "A comparative statics analysis of punishment in public-good experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 358-369, December.
  17. Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker, 2005. "Combining Monetary and Social Sanctions to Promote Cooperation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 649-660, July.
  18. Fudenberg, Drew & Pathak, Parag A., 2010. "Unobserved punishment supports cooperation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 78-86, February.
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