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Emotions, Sanctions, and Cooperation


  • Mateus Joffily

    () (Université de Lyon, Lyon, F-69007; CNRS, GATE, 93, Chemin des Mouilles, F-69130 Ecully, France)

  • David Masclet

    () (CNRS, CREM, 7 Place Hoche, 35065 Rennes, France, CIRANO, Montreal, Canada)

  • Charles N Noussair

    () (Department of Economics, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (Université de Lyon, Lyon, F-69007; CNRS, GATE, 93, Chemin des Mouilles, F-69130, Ecully, France)


We use skin conductance responses and self-reported hedonic valence to study the emotional basis of cooperation and punishment in a social dilemma. We argue that the availability of sanctions sets in motion a “virtuous emotional circle” that accompanies cooperation. Emotional reaction to free riding leads cooperators to apply sanctions. In response, and in addition to the monetary consequences of receiving sanctions, the negative emotions experienced by the free-riders when punished lead them to increase their subsequent level of cooperation. The outcome is an increased level of cooperation that becomes a new norm. Therefore, emotions sustain both the use of altruistic punishment and cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Mateus Joffily & David Masclet & Charles N Noussair & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Emotions, Sanctions, and Cooperation," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 1002-1027, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:80:4:y:2014:p:1002-1027

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ben-Shakhar, Gershon & Bornstein, Gary & Hopfensitz, Astrid & van Winden, Frans, 2007. "Reciprocity and emotions in bargaining using physiological and self-report measures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 314-323, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Galeotti, Fabio, 2015. "Do negative emotions explain punishment in power-to-take game experiments?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 1-14.
    2. Martin G. Kocher & Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny E. Wollbrant, 2017. "Strong, bold, and kind: self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 44-69, March.
    3. Fluet, Claude & Galbiati, Rpbertp, 2016. "Lois et normes : les enseignements de l'économie comportementale," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 92(1-2), pages 191-215, Mars-Juin.
    4. Drouvelis, Michalis & Grosskopf, Brit, 2016. "The effects of induced emotions on pro-social behaviour," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-8.
    5. Fabio Galeotti, 2013. "On the Robustness of Emotions and Behavior in a Power-to-Take Game Experiment," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 13-07, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    6. Laura K. Gee & Xinxin Lyu & Heather Urry, 2017. "Anger Management: Aggression and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-28, January.
    7. repec:eee:soceco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:62-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Nikiforakis, Nikos & Noussair, Charles N. & Wilkening, Tom, 2012. "Normative conflict and feuds: The limits of self-enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 797-807.
    9. Hartl, Barbara & Hofmann, Eva & Kirchler, Erich, 2016. "Do we need rules for “what's mine is yours”? Governance in collaborative consumption communities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 2756-2763.
    10. David L. Dickinson & Daivd Masclet, 2014. "Emotions and Punishment in Public Good Experiments," Working Papers 14-03, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods


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