Uncertainty and Deterrence: Experimental Evidence

31 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2009 Last revised: 14 Jun 2010

Gary Charness

University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Economics

Gregory J. DeAngelo

West Virginia University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2, 2009

Abstract

We conduct laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of deterrence mechanisms under controlled conditions. The effect of the expected cost of punishment of an individual's decision to engage in a proscribed activity and the effect of uncertainty on an individual's decision to commit a violation are very difficult to observe in field data. We use a roadway speeding framing and find that (a) individuals respond considerably to increases in the expected cost of speeding, (b) uncertainty about the enforcement regime yields a large reduction in violations committed, and (c) people are much more likely to speed when the punishment regime for which they voted is implemented. Our results have important implications for a behavioral theory of deterrence under uncertainty.

Keywords: Deterrence, Experiment, Uncertainty, Crime and Punishment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D81, K42

Suggested Citation

Charness, Gary and DeAngelo, Gregory J., Uncertainty and Deterrence: Experimental Evidence (April 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1372410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1372410

Gary Charness

University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Economics ( email )

2127 North Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
805-893-2412 (Phone)
805-893-8830 (Fax)

Gregory Joseph DeAngelo (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - Department of Economics ( email )

Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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