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The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment

  • Astrid Hopfensitz

    (University of Geneva)

  • Ernesto Reuben

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

This paper experimentally explores how the enforcement of cooperative behavior in a social dilemma is facilitated through institutional as well as emotional mechanisms. Recent studies emphasize the importance of anger and its role in motivating individuals to punish free riders. However, we find that anger also triggers retaliatory behavior by the punished individuals. This makes the enforcement of a cooperative norm more costly. We show that in addition to anger, ‘social’ emotions like guilt need to be present for punishment to be an effective deterrent of uncooperative actions. They play a key role by subduing the desire of punished individuals to retaliate and by motivating them to behave more cooperatively in the future.

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File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2006/0609.pdf/
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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-09.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision: Mar 2006
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0609
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