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Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment

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  • Cristina Bicchieria
  • Eugen Dimanta
  • Erte Xiao

Abstract

A stream of research examining the effect of punishment on conformity indicates that punishment can backfire and lead to suboptimal social outcomes. In such studies, the enforcement of a behavioral rule to cooperate originates from a single party. This feature may raise concern about the legitimacy of the rule and thereby make it easy for the agents to take a penalty and excuse their selfish behavior. We address the question of punishment legitimacy in our experiment by shedding light upon the importance of social norms and their interplay with punishment mechanisms. We show that the separate enforcement mechanisms of punishment and norms cannot achieve higher cooperation rates. In fact, conformity is significantly increased only in those cases when social norms and punishment are combined, but only when cooperation is cheap. Interestingly, when cooperation is expensive we find that the combination of punishment and empirical information about others conformity can also have traceable detrimental effects on conformity levels. Our results have important implications for researchers and practitioners alike.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Bicchieria & Eugen Dimanta & Erte Xiao, 2019. "Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment," Monash Economics Working Papers 07-18, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2018-07
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    2. Gary Bolton & Eugen Dimant & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior," PPE Working Papers 0017, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Dimant, Eugen & van Kleef, Gerben A. & Shalvi, Shaul, 2020. "Requiem for a Nudge: Framing effects in nudging honesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 247-266.
    4. Bonan, Jacopo & Battiston, Pietro & Bleck, Jaimie & LeMay-Boucher, Philippe & Pareglio, Stefano & Sarr, Bassirou & Tavoni, Massimo, 2021. "Social interaction and technology adoption: Experimental evidence from improved cookstoves in Mali," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    5. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2019. "Nudging with Care: The Risks and Benefits of Social Information," Discussion Papers 2019-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    6. Diekert, Florian & Eymess, Tillmann & Luomba, Joseph & Waichman, Israel, 2020. "The Creation of Social Norms under Weak Institutions," Working Papers 0684, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    7. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant & Simon Gaechter & Daniele Nosenzo, 2020. "Observability, Social Proximity, and the Erosion of Norm Compliance," CESifo Working Paper Series 8212, CESifo.
    8. Offiaeli, K. & Yaman, F., 2020. "Social Norms as a Cost-Effective Measure of Managing Transport Demand: Evidence from an Experiment on the London Underground," Working Papers 20/07, Department of Economics, City University London.
    9. Dimant, Eugen, 2019. "Contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior among peers and the role of social proximity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 66-88.
    10. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2018. "It's Not A Lie If You Believe It. Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty," PPE Working Papers 0012, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    11. Eugen Dimant, 2020. "Hate Trumps Love: The Impact of Political Polarization on Social Preferences," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 029, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    12. Eugen Dimant & Kyle Hyndman, 2019. "Becoming Friends or Foes? How Competitive Environments Shape Social Preferences," Discussion Papers 2019-18, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    13. Rostan Romaniuc & Dimitri Dubois & Eugen Dimant & Adrian Lupusor & Valeriu Prohnitchi, 2020. "Understanding Cross-Cultural Dfferences in Peer Reporting Practices: Evidence from Tax Evasion Games in Moldova and France," CEE-M Working Papers hal-02991776, CEE-M, Universtiy of Montpellier, CNRS, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro.
    14. Gary E. Bolton & Eugen Dimant & Ulrich Schmidt, 2020. "When a Nudge Backfires: Combining (Im)Plausible Deniability with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Behavioral Change," CESifo Working Paper Series 8070, CESifo.
    15. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant & Silvia Sonderegger, 2020. "It's Not a Lie If You Believe the Norm Does Not Apply: Conditional Norm-Following with Strategic Beliefs," CESifo Working Paper Series 8059, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conformity; Experiments; Punishment; Social Norms; Trust Game;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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