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Justification and Legitimate Punishment

  • Xiao, Erte
  • Tan, Fangfang

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.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 47154.

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Date of creation: 22 May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47154
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  1. Xiao, Erte & Houser, Daniel, 2011. "Punish in public," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 1006-1017, August.
  2. Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Justification and cooperation," MPRA Paper 36120, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gaechter & Ruslan Kabalin, 2009. "Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?," Discussion Papers 2009-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  4. 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.
  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, 01.
  6. Xiao, Erte, 2013. "Profit-seeking punishment corrupts norm obedience," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 321-344.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Third-party punishment and social norms," Experimental 0409002, EconWPA.
  8. Klaus Abbink, 2006. "Laboratory experiments on corruption," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-38, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  11. Jean-Robert Tyran & Lars P. Feld, 2005. "Achieving Compliance when Legal Sanctions are Non-Deterrent," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-17, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  12. Ferdinand Vieider, 2011. "Separating real incentives and accountability," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 507-518, November.
  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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