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Social dilemmas and shame-based sanctions: experimental results from rural Zimbabwe

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  • Abigail Barr

Abstract

Using two economic experiments I investigate how a sample of rural communities in Zimbabwe approach social dilemmas. When provided with an opportunity to impose sanctions in the context of a public goods game, fourteen out of eighteen communities achieved higher levels of cooperation. In thirteen communities the imposition of shame-based sanctions in the form of lighthearted criticism was observed. The resulting data revealed that: both non-cooperators and cooperators were criticised; community members cared about what their neighbours thought of them and made adjustments to their behaviour accordingly; the overall pattern rather than individual experiences of criticism affected subsequent behaviour; those who made low contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made higher contributions subsequently; while those who experienced such criticism first-hand made significantly smaller adjustments to their behaviour; those who made high contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made lower contributions subsequently; and to the extent that an opportunity to criticise passed by unexploited subsequent levels of cooperation were reduced.

Suggested Citation

  • Abigail Barr, 2001. "Social dilemmas and shame-based sanctions: experimental results from rural Zimbabwe," CSAE Working Paper Series 2001-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2001-11
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    Cited by:

    1. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2009. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1534-1559, October.
    2. Greig, Fiona & Bohnet, Iris, 2009. "Exploring gendered behavior in the field with experiments: Why public goods are provided by women in a Nairobi slum," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 1-9, May.
    3. de Melo, Gioia & Piaggio, Matías, 2015. "The perils of peer punishment: Evidence from a common pool resource framed field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 376-393.
    4. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2006. "The limits of self-governance in the presence of spite: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," Discussion Papers 2006-13, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    5. Gächter, Simon & Herrmann, Benedikt, 2011. "The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 193-210, February.
    6. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0505, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    7. El-Said, Hamed & Harrigan, Jane, 2009. ""You Reap What You Plant": Social Networks in the Arab World--The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 1235-1249, July.
    8. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2008. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 311-338.
    9. Barr, Abigail, 2004. "Forging Effective New Communities: The Evolution of Civil Society in Zimbabwean Resettlement Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1766, October.
    10. Jan Stoop & Charles N. Noussair & Daan van Soest, 2012. "From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1027-1056.
    11. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata & Maitra, Pushkar, 2012. "Moral hazard and peer monitoring in a laboratory microfinance experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 192-209.
    12. Davies, Elwyn & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2017. "Pledging, Praising and Shaming: Experimental Labour Markets in Ghana," IZA Discussion Papers 10520, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. de Melo Gioia & Piaggio Matías, 2015. "The Perils of Peer Punishment: Evidence from a Common Pool Resource Experiment," Working Papers 2015-12, Banco de México.
    14. Anderies, John M. & Janssen, Marco A. & Bousquet, François & Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Castillo, Daniel & Lopez, Maria-Claudio & Tobias, Robert & Vollan, Björn & Wutich, Amber, 2011. "The challenge of understanding decisions in experimental studies of common pool resource governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1571-1579, July.
    15. Jeffery Carpenter & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2006. "Mutual Monitoring in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence on the Importance of Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0608, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    16. Stefan Ambec, 2008. "Voting over Informal Risk--Sharing Rules," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(4), pages 635-659, August.
    17. Alpízar, F. & Gsottbauer, E., 2015. "Reputation and household recycling practices: Field experiments in Costa Rica," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 366-375.

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