Normative Conflict & Feuds: The Limits of Self-Enforcement
A normative conflict arises when there exist multiple plausible norms of behavior. In such cases, norm enforcement can lead to a sequence of mutual retaliatory sanctions, which we refer to as a feud. We investigate the hypothesis that normative conflict enhances the likelihood of a feud in a public-good experiment. We find that punishment is much more likely to trigger counter-punishment and start a feud when there is a normative conflict, than in a setting in which no conflict exists. While the possibility of a feud sustains cooperation,the cost of feuding fully offsets the efficiency gains from increased cooperation.
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