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Group Membership, Competition, and Altruistic versus Antisocial Punishment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Army Groups

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  • Götte, Lorenz

    () (University of Bonn)

  • Huffman, David B.

    () (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Meier, Stephan

    () (Columbia University)

  • Sutter, Matthias

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

Abstract

We investigate how group boundaries, and the economic environment surrounding groups, affect altruistic cooperation and punishment behavior. Our study uses experiments conducted with 525 officers in the Swiss Army, and exploits random assignment to platoons. We find that, without competition between groups, individuals are more prone to cooperate altruistically in a prisoner's dilemma game with in-group as opposed to out-group members. They also use a costly punishment option to selectively harm those who defect, encouraging a norm of cooperation towards the group. Adding competition between groups causes even stronger in-group cooperation, but also a qualitative change in punishment: punishment becomes antisocial, harming cooperative and defecting out-group members alike. These findings support recent evolutionary models and have important organizational implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Götte, Lorenz & Huffman, David B. & Meier, Stephan & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Group Membership, Competition, and Altruistic versus Antisocial Punishment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Army Groups," IZA Discussion Papers 5189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5189
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Thorsten Chmura & Christoph Engel & Markus Englerth, 2013. "Selfishness As a Potential Cause of Crime. A Prison Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. Angelo Antoci & Luca Zarri, 2015. "Punish and perish?," Rationality and Society, , vol. 27(2), pages 195-223, May.
    3. Faillo, Marco & Grieco, Daniela & Zarri, Luca, 2012. "Cultural Diversity, Cooperation,and Anti-social Punishment," AICCON Working Papers 102-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    4. repec:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:602:p:1047-1068 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:603:p:1433-1466 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Francesco Guala & Antonio Filippin, 2017. "The Effect of Group Identity on Distributive Choice: Social Preference or Heuristic?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(602), pages 1047-1068, June.
    7. Thomas Haan & Theo Offerman & Randolph Sloof, 2017. "Discrimination in the Labour Market: The Curse of Competition between Workers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(603), pages 1433-1466, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    group membership; competition; army; experiment; punishment;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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