Turning a Blind Eye, But Not the Other Cheek: On the Robustness of Costly Punishment

University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 185

40 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2015

See all articles by Peter H. Kriss

Peter H. Kriss

Qventus

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Erte Xiao

Monash University

Date Written: January 7, 2015

Abstract

Prior research demonstrates a willingness to incur costs to punish norm violators. But, how strong are the motives underlying such acts? Will people rely on "excuses" to avoid acting on costly punishment intentions, as with other costly pro-social acts? In a laboratory experiment, we find that third parties punish reluctantly: they state a preference to punish, but avoid the opportunity when doing so does not reveal this as their preference. In contrast, second parties - those directly wronged - are resolute punishers: they actively seek out the opportunity to punish. Our findings highlight important differences in motives underlying second- and third-party punishment.

Keywords: Experiment, third-party punishment, second-party punishment, fairness

JEL Classification: C72, C92, D64

Suggested Citation

Kriss, Peter H. and Weber, Roberto A. and Xiao, Erte, Turning a Blind Eye, But Not the Other Cheek: On the Robustness of Costly Punishment (January 7, 2015). University of Zurich, Department of Economics, Working Paper No. 185, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2549689 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2549689

Peter H. Kriss (Contact Author)

Qventus ( email )

625 Ellis St
Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94043
United States

Roberto A. Weber

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Erte Xiao

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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