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Punishment, Cooperation, and Cheater Detection in “Noisy” Social Exchange

  • Gary Bornstein

    (Department of Psychology and Center for the Study of Rationality, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel)

  • Ori Weisel

    ()

    (Department of Psychology and Center for the Study of Rationality, The Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel)

Explaining human cooperation in large groups of non-kin is a major challenge to both rational choice theory and the theory of evolution. Recent research suggests that group cooperation can be explained by positing that cooperators can punish non-cooperators or cheaters. The experimental evidence comes from public goods games in which group members are fully informed about the behavior of all others and cheating occurs in full view. We demonstrate that under more realistic information conditions, where cheating is less obvious, punishment is much less effective in enforcing cooperation. Evidently, the explanatory power of punishment is constrained by the visibility of cheating.

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Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Games.

Volume (Year): 1 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 18-33

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Handle: RePEc:gam:jgames:v:1:y:2010:i:1:p:18-33:d:7469
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  1. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 2002. "Group Size and Social Ties in Microfinance Institutions," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 1, Royal Economic Society.
  2. Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-97, Summer.
  3. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
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