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Kinship and friendship in a trust game with third party punishment


  • Björn Vollan

    () (Philipps-University Marburg/University of Mannheim)


This paper reports on a set of trust games with third party punishment (TPP) where participants are either family members or friends or unrelated villagers. The experimental sessions were carried out in southern Namibia (Karas) and the bordering northern South Africa (Namaqualand). The aim was to test several hypotheses derived from kin selection theory as well as to assess the importance of third party punishment for encounters among family members and friends. Building on Hamilton, (1964) it was proposed by e.g. Madsen et al., (2007) that kinship is the baseline behaviour among humans. Thus, I use kinship as basis for comparison of how we treat friends and unrelated people and when there is the possibility to punish free-riding behaviour. It turns out that kinship is the baseline behaviour when no other features are available to humans. However, a personal exchange among friends that has a third party observer performs better than a personal exchange among family members without third party punishment. Contributions to family members can substantially be increased by third party punishment. Thus, human ability to sustain a norm by punishing freeriders at personal costs could also have played an important role in sustaining co-operation among kin.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Vollan, 2008. "Kinship and friendship in a trust game with third party punishment," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200809, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  • Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:200809

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2008. "Das grüne Paradoxon: Warum man das Angebot bei der Klimapolitik nicht vergessen darf," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9(s1), pages 109-142, May.
    2. Ragwitz, Mario & del Río González, Pablo & Resch, Gustav, 2009. "Assessing the advantages and drawbacks of government trading of guarantees of origin for renewable electricity in Europe," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 300-307, January.
    3. Neij, Lena, 1997. "Use of experience curves to analyse the prospects for diffusion and adoption of renewable energy technology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(13), pages 1099-1107, November.
    4. Claudia Kemfert & Jochen Diekmann, 2009. "Förderung erneuerbarer Energien und Emissionshandel: wir brauchen beides," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 76(11), pages 169-174.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gulyás, Attila, 2011. "Diktátor a barátom? A barátság és a méltányosság kapcsolata
      [Is my friend a dictator? The relation between friendship and impartiality]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(5), pages 430-444.
    2. Attila Gulyás, 2010. "- Friends?... Fair enough," Proceedings of FIKUSZ '10,in: László Áron Kóczy (ed.), Proceedings of FIKUSZ 2010, pages 72-92 Óbuda University, Keleti Faculty of Business and Management.

    More about this item


    Trust; field experiment; third party punishment; kinship; friendship;

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