IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wpa/wuwpmi/0305008.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Strong Reciprocity, Human Cooperation and the Enforcement of Social Norms

Author

Listed:
  • Ernst Fehr

    (University of Zuerich)

  • Urs Fischbacher

    (University of Zuerich)

  • Simon Gächter

    (University of St. Gallen)

Abstract

This paper provides strong evidence challenging the self-interest assumption that dominates the behavioral sciences and much evolutionary thinking. The evidence indicates that many people have a tendency to voluntarily cooperate, if treated fairly, and to punish non-cooperators. We call this behavioral propensity ‘strong reciprocity’ and show empirically that it can lead to almost universal cooperation in circumstances in which purely self-interested behavior would cause a complete breakdown of cooperation. In addition, we show that people are willing to punish those who behaved unfairly towards a third person or who defected in a Prisoner’s Dilemma game with a third person. This suggests that strong reciprocity is a powerful device for the enforcement of social norms like, e.g., food-sharing norms or collective action norms. Strong Reciprocity cannot be rationalized as an adaptive trait by the leading evolutionary theories of human cooperation, i.e., by kin selection theory, reciprocal altruism theory, indirect reciprocity theory and costly signaling theory. However, multi-level selection theories and theories of cultural evolution are consistent with strong reciprocity.

Suggested Citation

  • Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gächter, 2003. "Strong Reciprocity, Human Cooperation and the Enforcement of Social Norms," Microeconomics 0305008, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0305008 Note: Type of Document - ; pages: 25
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mic/papers/0305/0305008.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Where do pro-social institutions come from?
      by pseudoerasmus in Pseudoerasmus on 2015-10-04 05:01:30

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Haeussler, Carolin, 2011. "Information-sharing in academia and the industry: A comparative study," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 105-122.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 209-222.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Joseph Henrich, "undated". "Markets Is Strong Reciprocity a Maladaptation? On the Evolutionary Foundations of Human Altruism," IEW - Working Papers 140, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Burnham, Terence C. & Cesarini, David & Wallace, Björn & Johannesson, Magnus & Lichtenstein, Paul, 2007. "Billiards and Brains: Cognitive Ability and Behavior in a p-Beauty Contest," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 684, Stockholm School of Economics.
    5. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: Norms and Incentives," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000866, David K. Levine.
    6. Matthias Sutter & Martin Kocher, 2004. "Age And The Development Of Trust And Reciprocity," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 105, Royal Economic Society.
    7. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Richard McAdams & Janice Nadler, "undated". "A Third Model of Legal Compliance: Testing for Expressive Effects in a Hawk/Dove Game," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1029, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
    9. Werner Güth & Vittoria Levati & Georg von Wangenheim, 2004. "Relatives Versus Neighbors - An Experiment Studying Spontaneous Social Exchange -," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-33, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    10. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "A Psychological Perspective on Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 162-168.
    11. L. Cameron & A. Chaudhuri & N. Erkal & L. Gangadharan, 2005. "Do Attitudes Towards Corruption Differ Across Cultures? Experimental Evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia andSingapore," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 943, The University of Melbourne.
    12. Pablo Guillen & Christiane Schwieren & Gianandrea Staffiero, 2007. "Why feed the Leviathan?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 115-128, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strong Reciprocity; Punishment; Evolution; Human Cooperation; Social Norms;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General

    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:wuwpmi:0305008. 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: http://econwpa.repec.org .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 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.