Legitimate Punishment, Immunity, and the Enforcement of Cooperation

Speaker:  Daniela Grieco - Università di Verona
  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 12:30 PM Biblioteca DSE, Palazzina 32 ex caserma Passalacqua

In the framework of a finitely repeated public goods game with costly punishment options, we
introduce a novel restrictive setup where only virtuous behavior (that is, being a high contributor)
allows one to gain access to punishment options (‘legitimacy’). Such a mechanism is in line with
several real-life institutions where access to sanctioning, far from being unrestricted, has to be
deserved in order to be viewed as a legitimate behavioral option. Furthermore, acting virtuously
guarantees that it will not be possible to be punished by others (‘immunity’). These restrictions
rule out punishment driven by targeted or blind revenge (such as the forms of counter-punishment
investigated in Nikiforakis, 2008 and Denant-Boemont et al., 2007) and censor individual
attempts to punish virtuous actions (that is perverse and anti-social punishment; Cyniabuguma et
al., 2006; Herrmann et al., 2008). In our experiment, pro-social behaviours are defined in two
possible ways: a subject is classified as virtuous if her contribution is higher than the average
contribution in her group (Average-dependent Legitimacy treatment), or if her contribution is
higher than her peers’ one (Peer-dependent Legitimacy treatment). Moreover, we manipulate the
amount of information subjects receive before making their decisions. Our preliminary results
show that restrictions per se do not affect the cooperation levels; by contrast, virtuous restrictions
combined with information on virtuous peers significantly increase cooperation levels; groups’
behavioral patterns exhibit a strong path dependence, as the group’s average contribution level in
the first period plays a crucial role in the determination of the final outcome.

Title Format  (Language, Size, Publication date)
Paper  pdfpdf (it, 259 KB, 22/09/10)

Programme Director
Angelo Zago

Publication date
July 14, 2010