Driving Forces of Informal Sanctions

Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 59

47 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2001

See all articles by Armin Falk

Armin Falk

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: May 2001

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 systematically examine 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. While non-strategic sanctions are of major importance in our experiments, strategic sanctions seem to play a negligible role. Within the class of fairness-driven sanctions the motive to harm those who committed unfair actions seems most important.

key-words: 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, Driving Forces of Informal Sanctions (May 2001). Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 59. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=291207 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.291207

Armin Falk (Contact Author)

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Schaumburg-Lippe-Stra├če 5-9
Bonn, 53113
Germany

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

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Bl├╝mlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

Urs Fischbacher

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

Universitaetsstr. 10
78457 Konstanz
Germany

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