Informal Sanctions

IEER Working Paper No. 59

38 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2000

See all articles by Armin Falk

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Urs Fischbacher

University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics

Date Written: September 2000

Abstract

Informal sanctions are a major determinant of a society's social capital because they are key to the enforcement of implicit agreements and social norms. Yet, little is known about the driving forces behind informal sanctions. We examine systematically the determinants of informal sanctions by a large number of experiments. Our findings show that the violation of fairness principles is the most important driving force of sanctions but, in addition, a non-negligible part of the sanctions is driven by spitefulness. We find surprisingly little evidence for strategic sanctions that are imposed to create future material benefits. Within the class of fairness-driven sanctions the motive to harm those who committed unfair actions or who revealed unfair intentions seems most important. The motive to decrease unfair payoff differences also plays some role but it cannot explain a sizeable part of the sanctions. The motive to achieve a fair relative share is largely irrelevant for sanctioning behavior.

Keywords: Informal Sanction, Social Norm, Social Capital, Strategic Sanction, Fairness, Reciprocity, Spitefulness.

JEL Classification: A13, D63, D23, C92, K42

Suggested Citation

Falk, Armin and Fehr, Ernst and Fischbacher, Urs, Informal Sanctions (September 2000). IEER Working Paper No. 59, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=245568 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.245568

Armin Falk

University of Bonn - Economic Science Area ( email )

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5-9
Bonn, 53113
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.briq-institute.org/

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Blümlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

Urs Fischbacher (Contact Author)

University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 10
78457 Konstanz
Germany

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