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Normative Perception of Power Abuse

Leonard Hoeft (), Wladislaw Mill () and Alexander Vostroknutov ()
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Leonard Hoeft: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Alexander Vostroknutov: Maastricht University

No 2019_06, Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods from Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Abstract: We study how the powerful perceive power abuse, and how negative experience related to it influences the appropriateness judgments of the powerless. We create an environment conducive to unfair exploitation in a repeated Public Goods game where one player (punisher) is given a further ability to costlessly subtract money from others (victims). Punishers who abuse their power rationalize their behavior by believing that free-riding, while forcing others to contribute, is not inappropriate. More importantly, victims of such abuse also start to believe that punishers’ free-riding and punishment are justifiable. Our findings demonstrate the capacity of humans to exculpate abusive behavior.

Keywords: power abuse; norms; public goods; punishment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 C92 K42 H41 D73 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-exp and nep-law
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