Inequality-Seeking Punishment

13 Pages Posted: 15 May 2010

See all articles by Daniel Houser

Daniel Houser

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Erte Xiao

Monash University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 15, 2010

Abstract

Inequality aversion is a key motive for punishment, with many prominent studies suggesting people use punishment to reduce or eliminate inequality. Punishment in laboratory games, however, is nearly always designed to promote equality (e.g., rejections in standard ultimatum games) and the marginal cost of punishment is typically non-trivially positive. As a consequence, individual preferences over punishment outcomes remain largely uninformed. We here report data from a laboratory experiment using dictator games. We find that when treated unfairly people who punish systematically prefer to create self-advantageous inequality. Our results shed new light on human preferences over punishment outcomes, and have important implications for the design of mechanisms to deter misconduct.

Suggested Citation

Houser, Daniel and Xiao, Erte, Inequality-Seeking Punishment (May 15, 2010). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 10-17, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1608246 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1608246

Daniel Houser (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science ( email )

5th Floor, Vernon Smith Hall
George Mason University
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
7039934856 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~dhouser/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Erte Xiao

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
33
Abstract Views
541
PlumX Metrics