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Rarer Actions: Giving and Taking in Third-Party Punishment Games

  • Simon Halliday

In attempting to understand cooperation, economists have used the methods of experimental economics to focus on spheres of human behavior in which humans display altruism, reciprocity, or other social preferences through giving and through punishment. Recent work has begun to examine whether allowing allocations in the negative domain, that is, allowing subjects to take (or steal) other subjects' endowments, might affect participants' behavior. If participants' behavior is affected, then our understanding of experimental results generally, and social preferences speci cally, should be affected too (List 2007, Bardsley 2008). In this paper we propose an experimental variation on the Dictator Game with third-party punishment (Fehr and Fischbacher 2004b). We examine, first, a basic Dictator Game with third-party punishment, after which we introduce a treatment allowing the dictator to take from the receiver, in the knowledge that the third party could punish them. The results conflict. Many dictators choose the most self-interested option, while, when taking is introduced as an option for the dictator, third parties punish the most self-interested option more than in the baseline.

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Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 211.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:211
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  1. Olivier Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2005. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2005-09, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2010. "On inequity aversion: A reply to Binmore and Shaked," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 101-108, January.
  3. Gachter, Simon & Herrmann, Benedikt & Thoni, Christian, 2004. "Trust, voluntary cooperation, and socio-economic background: survey and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 505-531, December.
  4. Casari, Marco & Luini, Luigi, 2009. "Cooperation under alternative punishment institutions: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 273-282, August.
  5. Klaus Abbink & Benedikt Herrmann, 2009. "The Moral Costs of Nastiness," Discussion Papers 2009-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  6. Bosman, Ronald & Sutter, Matthias & van Winden, Frans, 2005. "The impact of real effort and emotions in the power-to-take game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 407-429, June.
  7. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2007. "What Norms Trigger Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0708, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  9. Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Hideki Nakamura, 2001. "The 'Spite' Dilemma in Voluntary Contribution Mechanism Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000155, David K. Levine.
  10. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Renner, Elke, 2000. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 265-277, June.
  11. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
  12. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans Winden, 2006. "Exploring group decision making in a power-to-take experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 35-51, April.
  13. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans vanWinden, 2002. "Exploring Group Behavior in a Power-to-Take Video Experiment," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse7_2002, University of Bonn, Germany, revised May 2002.
  14. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2003. "Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interaction: Colin F. Camerer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 550, Price $65.00/[UK pound]42.95, ISBN 0-691-09039-4," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 717-720, December.
  15. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  17. Friedman, Daniel, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264, March.
  18. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
  19. Klaus Abbink & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2008. "The Pleasure of Being Nasty," FEMM Working Papers 08037, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  20. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  21. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  22. Matthias Cinyabuguma & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2006. "Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 265-279, September.
  23. Bohnet, Iris & Croson, Rachel, 2004. "Trust and trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 443-445, December.
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