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Carrots without Bite: On the Ineffectiveness of 'Rewards' in sustaining Cooperation in Social Dilemmas

  • Stoop, Jan
  • van Soest, Daan
  • Vyrastekova, Jana

Peer-to-peer sanctions increase cooperation in multi-person social dilemmas (Fehr & Gachter (2000)), but not when subjects have the option to retaliate (Nikiforakis (2008)). One-shot peer-to-peer rewards have been found to enhance efficiency too (Vyrastekova & van Soest (2008), Rand et al. (2009a)), but it is an open question whether the positive impact on cooperation is weakened or strengthened when we allow for counterrewarding. We examine the impact of possible reciprocity in rewarding on cooperation in a non-linear public bad game, and find that efficiency in the social dilemma is equally low as absent any reward options. We hypothesize that subjects are unwilling to sever mutually profitable bilateral exchanges of reward tokens to induce cooperation in the social dilemma, and identify the underlying mechanism by comparing behavior across three matching protocols.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 30538.

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Date of creation: 11 Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30538
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
  3. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 419-436, November.
  4. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  5. Nikiforakis, Nikos & Engelmann, Dirk, 2011. "Altruistic punishment and the threat of feuds," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 319-332, May.
  6. Nikos Nikiforakis, 2004. "Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?," Experimental 0403001, EconWPA.
  7. Rand, David Gertler & Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Ellingson, Tore & Nowak, Martin A., 2009. "Positive Interactions Promote Public Cooperation," Scholarly Articles 3804483, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Maier-Rigaud, Frank P. & Martinsson, Peter & Staffiero, Gianandrea, 2010. "Ostracism and the provision of a public good: experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 387-395, March.
  9. Denant-Boemont, L. & Masclet, D. & Noussair, C.N., 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment, and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Other publications TiSEM bf51dcf1-7064-41d1-8560-9, School of Economics and Management.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  11. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2007. "The Effect Of Rewards And Sanctions In Provision Of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(4), pages 671-690, October.
  12. Haigner, Stefan & Kocher, Martin & Sutter, Matthias, 2006. "Choosing the Stick or the Carrot? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," CEPR Discussion Papers 5497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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