Reciprocity: Weak or Strong? What Punishment Experiments Do (and Do Not) Demonstrate

University of Milan Department of Economics, Business and Statistics Working Paper No. 2010-23

42 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2010

See all articles by Francesco Guala

Francesco Guala

Università degli Studi di Milano - Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods

Date Written: July 14, 2010

Abstract

Strong Reciprocity theorists claim that cooperation in social dilemma games can be sustained by costly punishment mechanisms that eliminate incentives to free ride, even in one-shot and finitely repeated games. There is little doubt that costly punishment raises cooperation in laboratory conditions. Its efficacy in the field however is controversial. I distinguish two interpretations of experimental results, and show that the wide interpretation endorsed by Strong Reciprocity theorists is unsupported by ethnographic evidence on decentralised punishment and by historical evidence on common pool institutions. The institutions that spontaneously evolve to solve dilemmas of cooperation typically exploit low-cost mechanisms, turning finite games into indefinitely repeated ones and eliminating the cost of sanctioning.

Keywords: Experiments, Cooperation, Punishment, Evolution

JEL Classification: D02, D03, C92, H41, Z1

Suggested Citation

Guala, Francesco, Reciprocity: Weak or Strong? What Punishment Experiments Do (and Do Not) Demonstrate (July 14, 2010). University of Milan Department of Economics, Business and Statistics Working Paper No. 2010-23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1640616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1640616

Francesco Guala (Contact Author)

Università degli Studi di Milano - Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods ( email )

via Conservatorio 7
Milano, 20122
Italy

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
181
Abstract Views
961
rank
188,072
PlumX Metrics