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Emotions and Punishment in Public Good Experiments

  • David L. Dickinson
  • Daivd Masclet

Experimental studies have shown that sanctions effectively deter free riding within groups. However, the over-use of costly punishment may actually harm overall welfare. A main reason for over-punishment is that free-riders generate negative emotions that likely favor excessive punishments. In this paper we ask whether the venting of one’s emotions in different ways can reduce the level of excessive punishment in a standard VCM-with-punishment environment while preserving the norm enforcement properties of punishment. We find that venting emotions reduces (excessive) punishment, and under certain conditions the net effect is an increase in final payoffs (i.e., welfare) to the group. Key Words: sanctions, public good, experiment, venting emotions

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File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp1403.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Appalachian State University in its series Working Papers with number 14-03.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:14-03
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Web page: http://www.business.appstate.edu/departments/economics/
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  1. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00175251, HAL.
  2. 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.
  3. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  4. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Discussion Papers 06-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Mar 2006.
  5. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Axel Ockenfels, 2003. "The Effect of Communication Media on Cooperation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 217-241, 05.
  6. Mateus Joffily & David Masclet & Charles N. Noussair & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2011. "Emotions, Sanctions and Cooperation," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-12, CIRANO.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
  10. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  11. Ones, Umut & Putterman, Louis, 2007. "The ecology of collective action: A public goods and sanctions experiment with controlled group formation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 495-521, April.
  12. Bochet, Olivier & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Not just babble: Opening the black box of communication in a voluntary contribution experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 309-326, April.
  13. 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.
  14. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
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