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Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment

Cristina Bicchieria, Eugen Dimanta and Erte Xiao ()

No 07-18, Monash Economics Working Papers from Monash University, Department of Economics

Abstract: A stream of research examining the effect of punishment on conformity indicates that punishment can backfire and lead to suboptimal social outcomes. In such studies, the enforcement of a behavioral rule to cooperate originates from a single party. This feature may raise concern about the legitimacy of the rule and thereby make it easy for the agents to take a penalty and excuse their selfish behavior. We address the question of punishment legitimacy in our experiment by shedding light upon the importance of social norms and their interplay with punishment mechanisms. We show that the separate enforcement mechanisms of punishment and norms cannot achieve higher cooperation rates. In fact, conformity is significantly increased only in those cases when social norms and punishment are combined, but only when cooperation is cheap. Interestingly, when cooperation is expensive we find that the combination of punishment and empirical information about others conformity can also have traceable detrimental effects on conformity levels. Our results have important implications for researchers and practitioners alike.

Keywords: Conformity; Experiments; Punishment; Social Norms; Trust Game (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D03 D73 H26 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
Date: 2019-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-law and nep-soc
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Related works:
Working Paper: Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment (2020) Downloads
Working Paper: Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment (2017) Downloads
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