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Immoral criminals? An experimental study of social preferences among prisoners

Author

Listed:
  • Birkeland, Sigbjørn

    () (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Cappelen, Alexander W.

    () (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Sørensen, Erik Ø.

    () (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Tungodden, Bertil

    () (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

Abstract

This paper studies the pro-social preferences of criminals by comparing the behavior of a group of prisoners in a lab experiment with the behavior of a benchmark group recruited from the general population. We find a striking similarity in the importance the two groups attach to pro-social preferences in both in strategic and non-strategic situations. This result also holds when the two groups interact. Data from a large internet experiment,matched with official criminal records, suggest that our main finding from the lab experiment is not influenced by the additional scrutiny experienced by participants in prison.

Suggested Citation

  • Birkeland, Sigbjørn & Cappelen, Alexander W. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2011. "Immoral criminals? An experimental study of social preferences among prisoners," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 15/2011, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2011_015
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Criminals like us
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-11-01 19:34:22
    2. What a waste
      by Eric Crampton in Offsetting Behaviour on 2011-11-02 02:12:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Annamaria Nese & Arturo Palomba & Patrizia Sbriglia & Maurizio Scudiero, 2013. "Third party punishment and criminal behavior: an experiment with the Italian Camorra prison inmates," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(3), pages 1875-1884.
    2. Geerling, Wayne & Magee, Gary B. & Brooks, Robert, 2015. "Cooperation, defection and resistance in Nazi Germany," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 125-139.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pro-social preferences; Criminals; Lab experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General

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