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Third-Party Punishment: Retribution or Deterrence?

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  • Fangfang Tan
  • Erte Xiao

Abstract

We conduct an experiment to examine the role of retribution and deterrence in motivating third party punishment. In particular, we consider how the role of these two motives may differ according to whether a third party is a group or an individual. In a one-shot prisoner’s dilemma game with third party punishment, we find groups punish more when the penalty embeds deterrence than when it can only be retributive. In contrast, individual third parties’ punishment decisions do not vary on whether the punishment has any deterrent effect. In general, third party groups are less likely to impose punishment than individuals even though the punishment is costless for third parties.

Suggested Citation

  • Fangfang Tan & Erte Xiao, 2014. "Third-Party Punishment: Retribution or Deterrence?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:tax-mpg-rps-2014-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    third-party punishment; group decision making; retribution; deterrence; social dilemmas; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General

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