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Altruistic Norm Enforcement and Decision-Making Format in a Dilemma: Experimental Evidence

Kamei, Kenju (2017): Altruistic Norm Enforcement and Decision-Making Format in a Dilemma: Experimental Evidence.

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Abstract

Past research has shown that people often take punitive actions towards norm violators even when they are not directly involved in transactions. However, it at the same time suggests that such third-party punishment may not be strong enough to enforce cooperation norms in dilemma situations. This paper experimentally compares the effectiveness of third-party punishment between different enforcement formats. Consistent with past studies, our data shows that having an individual third-party punisher in a group does not make one’s defection materially unbeneficial because of the weak punishment intensity. It also shows that third-party punishment is not effective when two individuals form a pair as a punisher and jointly decide how strong third-party punishment they impose. However, third-party punishment can be sufficiently strong to enforce cooperation norms when a third-party punisher’s action choice is made known to another individual third-party punisher in a different group, or when there are two independent individual third-party players in a group.

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