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Free-riding on altruistic punishment? An experimental comparison of third-party-punishment in a stand-alone and in an in-group environment


  • Lewisch Peter
  • Ottone, Stefania


  • Ponzano, Ferruccio



This paper deals with the subject of third-party punishment. The paper compares, by means of an economic experiment, punishment by a third party (Stand-Alone case) with punishment by third parties (In-Group environment). This deliberate introduction of a second potential punisher is neither subtle nor marginal. Shifting punishment choices into this "enlarged environment" allows us to study, in a systematic way, the complex relationship between the punisher's expectations about her/his peer's punishment decisions and her/his own punishment choices. In particular, we aim to examine whether, on average, individual punishment is systematically lower in an In-Group environment compared with the Stand-Alone case.

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  • Lewisch Peter & Ottone, Stefania & Ponzano, Ferruccio, 2010. "Free-riding on altruistic punishment? An experimental comparison of third-party-punishment in a stand-alone and in an in-group environment," POLIS Working Papers 139, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:uca:ucapdv:139

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Casari, Marco & Luini, Luigi, 2005. "Group Cooperation Under Alternative Peer Punishment Technologies: An Experiment," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1176, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2008:i:10:p:1-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
    6. Anderson, Christopher M. & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
    7. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2008. "Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 91-112, February.
    8. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1974. "The Private Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 0062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Stefania Ottone, 2008. "Are people Samaritans or Avengers?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(10), pages 1-3.
    10. 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.
    11. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    12. Bose, Pinaki, 1995. "Regulatory errors, optimal fines and the level of compliance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 475-484, March.
    13. Ottone, Stefania, 2005. "Transfers and Altruistic Punishments in Solomon's Game experiments," POLIS Working Papers 50, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    14. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Butler, Je rey V. & Conzo, Pierluigi & Leroch, Martin A., 2013. "Social Identity and Punishment," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201329, University of Turin.
    2. Gianna Lotito & Matteo Migheli & Guido Ortona, 2013. "Is cooperation instinctive? Evidence from the response times in a public goods game," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 123-133, July.
    3. Kamei, Kenju, 2017. "Altruistic Norm Enforcement and Decision-Making Format in a Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," MPRA Paper 76641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Marchese Carla & Ramello Giovanni B., 2011. "In the Beginning Was the Word. Now is the Copyright," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 271-289, October.

    More about this item


    Third-Party Punishment; Collective Punishment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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