Revenge and Retaliation
George Washington University - Department of Economics
University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna
THE LAW AND ECONOMICS OF IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR, Francesco Parisi, Vernon Smith, eds., Stanford University Press, 2005
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 02-31
This paper considers the role of retaliation norms as a way to induce more socially desirable behavior among self-interested parties. The paper first considers the unregulated case in which individuals indulge in mutual aggression, in the absence of other legal or social constraints. Next the relationship between aggressors and their victims is investigated, concentrating on the effect of victim's propensity to retaliate when suffering harm from others. Two retaliatory regimes are examined: proportional retribution and fixed retaliation. Special attention is paid to the impact of these regimes on the parties' interaction. The results suggest that human instincts for revenge may indeed be as important as honesty for the evolution of cooperation. More generally, retaliation norms are an important ingredient for the evolution of desirable social behavior in the absence of other social constraints or legal intervention.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Negative Reciprocity, Retaliation, Revenge, Vindictiveness
JEL Classification: D70, C7, Z13Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 12, 2002
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