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Reciprocity: weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate

Guala, Francesco (2010) Reciprocity: weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate. [Preprint]

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    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.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: Experiments, Cooperation, Punishment, Evolution
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Economics
    Specific Sciences > Biology
    Specific Sciences > Sociology
    Depositing User: Francesco Guala
    Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2010
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:13
    Item ID: 2365

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