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Emotions and Punishment in Public Good Experiments

David Dickinson and David Masclet

No 14-03, Working Papers from Department of Economics, Appalachian State University

Abstract: Experimental studies have shown that sanctions effectively deter free riding within groups. However, the over-use of costly punishment may actually harm overall welfare. A main reason for over-punishment is that free-riders generate negative emotions that likely favor excessive punishments. In this paper we ask whether the venting of one’s emotions in different ways can reduce the level of excessive punishment in a standard VCM-with-punishment environment while preserving the norm enforcement properties of punishment. We find that venting emotions reduces (excessive) punishment, and under certain conditions the net effect is an increase in final payoffs (i.e., welfare) to the group. Key Words: sanctions, public good, experiment, venting emotions

JEL-codes: C92 H41 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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