IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wpa/wuwpex/0502001.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Houser

    (ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Erte Xiao

    (ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Kevin McCabe

    (ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Vernon Smith

    (ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University)

Abstract

People can become less cooperative when threatened with sanctions, and researchers have pointed to both 'intentions' and incentives as sources of this effect. This paper reports data from a novel experimental design aimed at determining the relative importance of intentions and incentives in producing non-cooperative behavior in a personal exchange environment. Subjects play one-shot investment games in pairs. Investors send an amount to trustees and request a return on this investment and, in some treatments, are given the option to threaten sanctions to enforce this return request. The decisions of trustees who face credible threats intentionally imposed (or not) by their investors are compared to the decisions of trustees who face threats randomly imposed (or not) by nature. When not threatened, trustees typically decide to return a positive amount that is less than the investor requested. When threatened with sanctions this decision becomes least common. In particular, under severe sanction threats most trustees return the desired amount, while under weak threats the most common decision is to return nothing. Critically, these results do not depend on whether the trustee is threatened intentionally by their investor or randomly by nature: trustees who are threatened with weak sanctions are significantly more likely to provide a zero return to their investors, even when they know that their investors had no role in imposing the threat. Our findings lend support to the view that credible threats of sanctions generate a “cognitive shift” that crowds-out norm-based motivations and increases the likelihood of income-maximizing behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 18 Feb 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0502001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 52
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/exp/papers/0502/0502001.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
    4. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
    5. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    6. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2004. "Contracts, Fairness, and Incentives," Discussion Papers in Economics 334, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
    8. David Dickinson, 2001. "The Carrot vs. the Stick in Work Team Motivation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 4(1), pages 107-124, June.
    9. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    10. 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.
    11. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
    12. Camerer, Colin & Weigelt, Keith, 1988. "Experimental Tests of a Sequential Equilibrium Reputation Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 1-36, January.
    13. Armin Falk & Michael Kosfeld, "undated". "Distrust - The Hidden Cost of Control," IEW - Working Papers 193, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    14. Rabin, Matthew, 1994. "Cognitive dissonance and social change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-194, March.
    15. Dickinson, David & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2008. "Does monitoring decrease work effort?: The complementarity between agency and crowding-out theories," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 56-76, May.
    16. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
    17. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
    18. Charness, Gary & Levine, David I., 2003. "The Road to Hell: An Experimental Study of Intentions," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4xs9d0nz, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    19. Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2004. "Behavior in a Dynamic Decision Problem: An Analysis of Experimental Evidence Using a Bayesian Type Classification Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 781-822, May.
    20. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2007. "Adding a Stick to the Carrot? The Interaction of Bonuses and Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 177-181, May.
    21. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    22. James Andreoni & William Harbaugh & Lise Vesterlund, 2003. "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 893-902, June.
    23. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    24. 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.
    25. Falk, Armin & Gachter, Simon & Kovacs, Judit, 1999. "Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic incentives in a repeated game with incomplete contracts," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 251-284, June.
    26. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2007. "The Effect Of Rewards And Sanctions In Provision Of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(4), pages 671-690, October.
    27. 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.
    28. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    29. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
    30. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
    31. repec:cup:apsrev:v:86:y:1992:i:02:p:404-417_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
    33. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
    34. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2003. "On the Nature of Fair Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 20-26, January.
    35. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    36. Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2005. "Emotion expression in human punishment behavior," Experimental 0504003, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 18 May 2005.
    37. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    38. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
    39. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    40. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    41. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-364, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    punishment; intentions; cooperation; trust; reciprocity; experimental and behavioral economics;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0502001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.