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Learning to Punish: Experimental Evidence from a Sequential Step-Level Public Goods Game

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  • David Cooper

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  • Carol Stockman

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Abstract

This paper studies how subjects in a three-person sequential step-level public good game learn to punish free riders more over time. Our current work makes several additions to the literature on other regarding behavior. First, our experiment provides evidence that subjects care about the actions that lead to an outcome as well as the outcome itself, replicating the results of A. Falk, E. Fehr and U. Fischbacher (Economic Inquiry, in press), J. Brandts and C. Solà (Games and Economic Behavior, 36(2), 138–157, 2001.) and J.H. Kagel and K. Wolfe (Working paper, Ohio State University, 1999). Second, our experiment provides one of the first tests of the newer theories of reciprocity by A. Falk and U. Fischbacher (Working paper, University of Zurich, 2000) and G. Charness and M. Rabin (Quarterly Journal of Economics, in press) that take a psychological games approach. We find that these theories fail to explain the experimental data. Finally, we examine the mechanism by which subjects learn to punish free-riding more ofter over time. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Suggested Citation

  • David Cooper & Carol Stockman, 2002. "Learning to Punish: Experimental Evidence from a Sequential Step-Level Public Goods Game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(1), pages 39-51, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:5:y:2002:i:1:p:39-51
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1016364608108
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1998. "Gift exchange and reciprocity in competitive experimental markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-34, January.
    2. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
    3. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    4. A. Roth & I. Er’ev, 2010. "Learning in Extensive Form Games: Experimental Data and Simple Dynamic Models in the Intermediate Run," Levine's Working Paper Archive 387, David K. Levine.
    5. Roth, Alvin E. & Erev, Ido, 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games: Experimental data and simple dynamic models in the intermediate term," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 164-212.
    6. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    7. Cooper, David J. & Stockman, Carol Kraker, 2002. "Fairness and learning: an experimental examination," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 26-45, October.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:01:p:112-122_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. David M. McEvoy & James J. Murphy & John M. Spraggon & John K. Stranlund, 2011. "The problem of maintaining compliance within stable coalitions: experimental evidence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(3), pages 475-498, July.
    2. David McEvoy, 2010. "Not it: opting out of voluntary coalitions that provide a public good," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 9-23, January.
    3. Giorgio Coricelli, 2002. "Sequence Matters: an Experimental Study of the Effects of Experiencing Positive and Negative Reciprocity," Department of Economics University of Siena 369, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    4. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck-Hua, 2015. "Behavioral Game Theory Experiments and Modeling," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier.
    5. McEvoy, David & Jones, Michael & McKee, Michael & Talberth, John, 2014. "Incentivizing cooperative agreements for sustainable forest management," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 34-41.
    6. David McEvoy & Todd Cherry & John Stranlund, 2015. "Endogenous Minimum Participation in International Environmental Agreements: An Experimental Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(4), pages 729-744, December.

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    Keywords

    public goods; learning; reciprocity;

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