We thank Sam Bowles, Dirk Engelmann, Nikos Nikiforakis, Arno Riedl, Arthur Schram, Martine Visser and Frans van Winden for useful comments and suggestions. Financial support from CREED of the University of Amsterdam is gratefully acknowledged.
The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment*
Article first published online: 17 JUL 2009
© The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009
The Economic Journal
Volume 119, Issue 540, pages 1534–1559, October 2009
How to Cite
Hopfensitz, A. and Reuben, E. (2009), The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment. The Economic Journal, 119: 1534–1559. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2009.02288.x
- Issue published online: 4 SEP 2009
- Article first published online: 17 JUL 2009
- Submitted: 27 March 2006 Accepted: 8 October 2008
This article experimentally explores how the enforcement of cooperative behaviour in a social dilemma is facilitated through institutional as well as emotional mechanisms. Recent studies emphasise the importance of anger and its role in motivating individuals to punish free riders. However, we find that anger also triggers retaliatory behaviour by the punished individuals. This makes the enforcement of a cooperative norm more costly. We show that in addition to anger, ‘social’ emotions like guilt need to be present for punishment to be an effective deterrent of uncooperative actions. They play a key role by subduing the desire of punished individuals to retaliate and by motivating them to behave more cooperatively in the future.