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Justification and cooperation

Author

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  • Xiao, Erte

Abstract

The need for justification is a widely observed social phenomenon. This paper develops a theoretical framework and reports laboratory evidence to show how pure justification pressure affects cooperative behavior in economic exchange environments. In a one-shot anonymous interaction, compared with the case when the behavior is simply observed by the audience, individuals are more likely to act on what they believe the audience thinks they should do when they also have to explain the decisions to the audience. When it is salient that the audience thinks one should cooperate, justification pressure significantly promotes cooperation even absent negative consequences for non-cooperative behavior. We discuss the implications of our findings for shaping institutional design to promote cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Justification and cooperation," MPRA Paper 36120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36120
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/37084/1/MPRA_paper_37084.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jian Li & Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser & P. Read Montague, 2009. "Neural Responses to Sanction Threats in Two-Party Economic Exchange," Working Papers 1012, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    2. Kahan, Dan M, 1998. "Social Meaning and the Economic Analysis of Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 609-622, June.
    3. Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 445-454, June.
    4. Brandts, Jordi & Garofalo, Orsola, 2012. "Gender pairings and accountability effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 31-41.
    5. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
    7. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    8. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
    9. Andreoni, James & Rao, Justin M., 2011. "The power of asking: How communication affects selfishness, empathy, and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 513-520.
    10. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
    11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Erte Xiao & Fangfang Tan, 2014. "Justification and Legitimate Punishment," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 170(1), pages 168-188, March.
    2. Festré, Agnès & Garrouste, Pierre, 2014. "Somebody may scold you! A dictator experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 141-153.
    3. Shaul Shalvi, 2012. "Dishonestly increasing the likelihood of winning," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 292-303, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    justification; accountability; cooperation; social norms; experimental economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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