Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2007029
 
 

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Small Harm on an Innocent Outsider as a Lubricant of Cooperation – An Experiment


Christoph Engel


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Lilia Zhurakhovska


Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

March 2014

MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2012/2

Abstract:     
Under the assumption of profit-maximization in a two players simultaneous symmetric one-shot prisoner's dilemma the fact that choosing the cooperative move imposes harm on a passive outsider is immaterial. Yet if participants hold social preferences, one might think that they are reticent to impose harm on the outsider. Our data suggest that moral intuition gets it wrong: We do not find a significant difference between the baseline (where there is no outsider) and the treatment (with an outsider) for most levels of harm. On the contrary, the externality makes participants more pessimistic and, conditional on their beliefs, participants even cooperate significantly more if cooperation imposes small harm on outsiders. This finding is consistent with recent studies showing that trying to distance oneself from the outsider, instead of not trying not to harm her, is the main motive behind cooperation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: social preferences, Conditional Cooperation, negative externalities, Beliefs, prisoner’s dilemma, efficiency

JEL Classification: D63, D01, D62, C90, D03

working papers series


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Date posted: February 18, 2012 ; Last revised: March 21, 2014

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph and Zhurakhovska, Lilia, Small Harm on an Innocent Outsider as a Lubricant of Cooperation – An Experiment (March 2014). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2012/2. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2007029 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2007029

Contact Information

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )
Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany
+049 228 914160 (Phone)
+049 228 9141655 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/engel.html

University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics
Postfach 2220
D-53012 Bonn
Germany
University of Osnabrueck - Faculty of Law
c/o Prof. Dr. Schneider
Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany
Lilia Zhurakhovska
Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )
Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
Bonn, 53113
Germany
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