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Justification and Legitimate Punishment

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  • Xiao, Erte
  • Tan, Fangfang

Abstract

Punishment can lose its legitimacy if the enforcer can profit from delivering punishment. We use a controlled laboratory experiment to examine how justification can combat profit-seeking punishment and promote the legitimacy of punishment. In a one-shot sender-receiver game, an independent third party can punish the sender upon seeing whether the sender has told the truth. Most third parties punish the senders regardless of how the senders behave when they can profit from punishment. However, majority third parties punish the sender if and only if the sender lies when they have to provide explanations for their punishment decisions. Our data also suggests that senders are more likely to perceive punishment as legitimate and behave honestly when they know the enforcer has to justify their punishment decisions. Our findings suggest that justification requirement plays an important role in building efficient punishment institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiao, Erte & Tan, Fangfang, 2013. "Justification and Legitimate Punishment," MPRA Paper 47154, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47154
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Xiao, Erte & Houser, Daniel, 2011. "Punish in public," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 1006-1017, August.
    3. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    4. Jean-Robert Tyran & Lars P. Feld, 2006. "Achieving Compliance when Legal Sanctions are Non-deterrent," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(1), pages 135-156, March.
    5. Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Deception Through Telling the Truth?! Experimental Evidence From Individuals and Teams," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 47-60, January.
    6. Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Justification and cooperation," MPRA Paper 36120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory Experiments on Corruption," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Cubitt, Robin P. & Drouvelis, Michalis & Gächter, Simon & Kabalin, Ruslan, 2011. "Moral judgments in social dilemmas: How bad is free riding?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 253-264.
    9. 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.
    10. Ferdinand Vieider, 2011. "Separating real incentives and accountability," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 507-518, November.
    11. Tan, Fangfang & Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Peer punishment with third-party approval in a social dilemma game," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 589-591.
    12. Xiao, Erte, 2013. "Profit-seeking punishment corrupts norm obedience," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 321-344.
    13. Leibbrandt, Andreas & López-Pérez, Raúl, 2012. "An exploration of third and second party punishment in ten simple games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 753-766.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2013. "Do Explicit Reasons Make Legal Intervention More Effective? An Experimental Study," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Mar 2018.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    third-party punishment; justification; sender-receiver game; 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
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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