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Punishment, Cooperation, and Cheater Detection in "Noisy" Social Exchange

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  • Gary Bornstein
  • Ori Weisel

Abstract

Explaining human cooperation in large groups of non-kin is a major challenge to both rational choice theory and the theory of evolution. Recent research suggests that group cooperation can be explained assuming that cooperators can punish non-cooperators or cheaters. The experimental evidence comes from economic games in which group members are informed about the behavior of all others and cheating occurs in full view. We demonstrate that under more realistic information conditions, where cheating is less obvious, punishment is ineffective in enforcing cooperation. Evidently, the explanatory power of punishment is constrained by the visibility of cheating.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Bornstein & Ori Weisel, 2009. "Punishment, Cooperation, and Cheater Detection in "Noisy" Social Exchange," Discussion Paper Series dp528, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp528
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    Cited by:

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    2. Attila Ambrus & Ben Greiner, 2012. "Imperfect Public Monitoring with Costly Punishment: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3317-3332, December.
    3. Erte Xiao & Howard Kunreuther, 2016. "Punishment and Cooperation in Stochastic Social Dilemmas," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 60(4), pages 670-693, June.
    4. Robbett, Andrea, 2016. "Sustaining cooperation in heterogeneous groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 121-138.
    5. Wang, Le & Chen, Tong & You, Xinshang & Wang, Yongjie, 2018. "The effect of wealth-based anti-expectation behaviors on public cooperation," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 493(C), pages 84-93.
    6. Dekel, Sagi & Fischer, Sven & Zultan, Ro’i, 2017. "Potential Pareto Public Goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 87-96.
    7. Goeschl, Timo & Jarke, Johannes, 2013. "Non-Strategic Punishment when Monitoring is Costly: Experimental Evidence on Differences between Second and Third Party Behavior," Working Papers 0545, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    8. Feess, Eberhard & Schramm, Markus & Wohlschlegel, Ansgar, 2014. "The Impact of Fine Size and Uncertainty on Punishment and Deterrence: Evidence from the Laboratory," MPRA Paper 59463, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Bucciol, Alessandro & Montinari, Natalia & Piovesan, Marco, 2014. "It Wasn't Me! Visibility and Free Riding in Waste Sorting," Working Papers 2014:17, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    10. Evgeny Kagan & Stephen Leider & William S. Lovejoy, 2020. "Equity Contracts and Incentive Design in Start-Up Teams," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(10), pages 4879-4898, October.
    11. Patel, Amrish & Cartwright, Edward & Mark, Van Vugt, 2010. "Punishment Cannot Sustain Cooperation in a Public Good Game with Free-Rider Anonymity," Working Papers in Economics 451, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    12. Simon Gaechter, 2014. "Human Pro-Social Motivation and the Maintenance of Social Order," CESifo Working Paper Series 4729, CESifo.
    13. Georg Kanitsar, 2021. "Self-Governance in Generalized Exchange. A Laboratory Experiment on the Structural Embeddedness of Peer Punishment," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-16, June.
    14. Avner Ben-Ner & Matthew Ellman, 2013. "The contributions of behavioural economics to understanding and advancing the sustainability of worker cooperatives," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 2(1), pages 75-100, August.
    15. Goeschl, Timo & Jarke, Johannes, 2016. "Second and third party punishment under costly monitoring," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 124-133.
    16. Robbett, Andrea, 2019. "Just ask? Preference revelation and lying in a public goods experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 118-135.
    17. Christoph Engel, 2019. "When Does Transparency Backfire? Putting Jeremy Bentham's Theory of General Prevention to the Experimental Test," Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 16(4), pages 881-908, December.
    18. Joseph P. Gaspar & Maurice E. Schweitzer, 2021. "Confident and Cunning: Negotiator Self-Efficacy Promotes Deception in Negotiations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 171(1), pages 139-155, June.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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