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In the long-run we are all dead: On the benefits of peer punishment in rich environments

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  • Engelmann, Dirk
  • Nikiforakis, Nikos

Abstract

We investigate whether peer punishment is an efficient mechanism for enforcing cooperation in an experiment with a long time horizon. Previous evidence suggests that the costs of peer punishment can be outweighed by the benefits of higher cooperation, if (i) there is a sufficiently long time horizon and (ii) punishment cannot be avenged. However, in most instances in daily life, when individuals interact for an extended period of time, punishment can be retaliated. We use a design that imposes minimal restrictions on who can punish whom or when, and allows participants to employ a wide range of punishment strategies including retaliation of punishment. Similar to previous research, we find that, when punishment cannot be avenged, peer punishment leads to higher earnings relative to a baseline treatment without any punishment opportunities. However, in the more general setting, we find no evidence of group earnings increasing over time relative to the baseline treatment. Our results raise questions under what conditions peer punishment can be an efficient mechanism for enforcing cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Engelmann, Dirk & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2013. "In the long-run we are all dead: On the benefits of peer punishment in rich environments," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79743, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79743
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikos Nikiforakis & Helen Mitchell, 2014. "Mixing the carrots with the sticks: third party punishment and reward," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, March.
    2. Kamei, Kenju & Putterman, Louis, 2015. "In broad daylight: Fuller information and higher-order punishment opportunities can promote cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 145-159.
    3. Jeremy Clark & David L Dickinson, 2017. "The Impact of Sleep Restriction on Contributions and Punishment: First Evidence," Working Papers in Economics 17/02, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    4. Jeremy Clark & David L Dickinson, 2020. "The effect of sleep on public good contributions and punishment: Experimental evidence," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(10), pages 1-26, October.
    5. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David, 2015. "Emotion venting and punishment in public good experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 55-67.
    6. David C. Kingsley, 2015. "Peer punishment across payoff equivalent public good and common pool resource experiments," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(2), pages 197-204, December.
    7. Manuel Muñoz-Herrera & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2020. "Experimental Evidence Shows That Negative Motive Attribution Drives Counter- Punishment," Working Papers 20200056, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Oct 2020.
    8. Koch, Christian & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Noussair, Charles N., 2021. "Covenants before the swords: The limits to efficient cooperation in heterogeneous groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 307-321.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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