Third-party punishment increases cooperation in children through (misaligned) expectations and conditional cooperation
Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America, 2014, Vol. 111, No. 19, pp. 6916-6921
LERGETPORER, Philipp, ANGERER, Silvia, GLÄTZLE-RÜTZLER, Daniela, SUTTER, Matthias, Third-party punishment increases cooperation in children through (misaligned) expectations and conditional cooperation, Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America, 2014, Vol. 111, No. 19, pp. 6916-6921 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/33994
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
The human ability to establish cooperation, even in large groups of genetically unrelated strangers, depends upon the enforcement of cooperation norms. Third-party punishment is one important factor to explain high levels of cooperation among humans, although it is still somewhat disputed whether other animal species also use this mechanism for promoting cooperation. We study the effectiveness of third-party punishment to increase children's cooperative behavior in a large-scale cooperation game. Based on an experiment with 1,120 children, aged 7 to 11 y, we find that the threat of third-party punishment more than doubles cooperation rates, despite the fact that children are rarely willing to execute costly punishment. We can show that the higher cooperation levels with third-party punishment are driven by two components. First, cooperation is a rational (expected payoff-maximizing) response to incorrect beliefs about the punishment behavior of third parties. Second, cooperation is a conditionally cooperative reaction to correct beliefs that third party punishment will increase a partner's level of cooperation.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/33994
Full-text via DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1320451111
Publisher: Natl Acad Sciences
Keyword(s): Public-good experiments altruistic punishment social norms strong reciprocity young-children enforcement behavior humans chimpanzees evolution
Sponsorship and Funder information:
We thank Rudolf Meraner from the South Tyrolean State Board of Education (Padagogisches Institut fur die deutsche Sprachgruppe in Sudtirol), the headmasters of the participating schools (Gabriella Kustatscher, Maria Angela Madera, Eva Dora Oberleiter, Brigitte Ottl, Ursula Pulyer, Vally Valbonesi), the parents of the involved children for making this study possible, and the children for participation; and an editor, two referees, Loukas Balafoutas, Nikos Nikiforakis, Karl Sigmund, the audiences at the Maastricht Behavioral and Experimental Economics Symposium 2013, and the University of Innsbruck for helpful comments. This study was supported by the Government of South Tyrol and the "Aktion D. Swarovski" at the University of Innsbruck.
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