EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Public Implementation Eliminates Detrimental Effects of Punishment on Human Cooperation

Erte Xiao () and Daniel Houser ()

No 1977, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: Development of human societies requires cooperation among unrelated individuals and obedience to social norms. Although punishment is widely agreed to be potentially useful in fostering cooperation, many recent results in psychology and economics highlight punishments' failures in this regard. These studies ignore punishments' social effects, and particularly its role in promoting social norms. We show here, using experiments with human subjects, that public implementation of punishment can eliminate its detrimental effects on cooperation. In a public goods game designed to create tension between group and individual interests, we find that privately implemented punishment reduces cooperation relative to a baseline treatment without punishment. However, when that same incentive is implemented publicly, but anonymously, cooperation is sustained at significantly higher rates than in both baseline and private punishment treatments. These data support our hypothesis that public implementation of punishment enhances the salience of the violated social norm to both the punished and those who observed the punishment, and that this increased salience positively affects group members' norm obedience. Our findings point to the importance of accounting for social consequences of punishment when designing procedures to deter misconduct in social environments including schools, companies, markets and courts.

Keywords: social norms; experiments; behavioral economics; punishment; public goods game; cooperation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 D71 H41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2006-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-pbe and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Published - revised version published as "Punish in Public" in: Journal of Public Economics, 2011, 95 (7-8), 1006-1017

Downloads: (external link)
https://docs.iza.org/dp1977.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1977

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Holger Hinte ().

 
Page updated 2022-05-18
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1977