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Turning the Lab into Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon - The Effect of Punishment on Offenders and Non-Offenders

45 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2010  

Christoph Engel

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

Bernd Irlenbusch

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Management; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: February 2010

Abstract

The most famous element in Bentham’s theory of punishment, the Panopticon Prison, expresses his view of the two purposes of punishment, deterrence and special prevention. We investigate Bentham’s intuition in a public goods lab experiment by manipulating how much information on punishment experienced by others is available to would-be offenders. Compared with the tone that Jeremy Bentham set, our results are non-expected: If would-be offenders learn about contributions and punishment of others at the individual level, they contribute much less to the public project. Our results confirm the special prevention effect but show that the deterrence effect is smaller the more information on individual punishment is available.

Keywords: Punishment, Deterrence, Special Prevention, Jeremy Bentham, Experiment, Public Good

JEL Classification: C91, H41, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph and Irlenbusch, Bernd, Turning the Lab into Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon - The Effect of Punishment on Offenders and Non-Offenders (February 2010). MPI Collective Goods Preprint No. 2010/06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1555589 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1555589

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

Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

c/o Prof. Dr. Schneider
Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany

Bernd Irlenbusch

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Management ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7955 7840 (Phone)
+44 (0)20 7955 6887 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/management/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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