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An economic experiment reveals that humans prefer pool punishment to maintain the commons

MPS-Authors
http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56973

Traulsen,  Arne
Research Group Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56887

Röhl,  Torsten
Research Group Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56825

Milinski,  Manfred
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Traulsen_2012.pdf
(Publisher version), 430KB

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Citation

Traulsen, A., Röhl, T., & Milinski, M. (2012). An economic experiment reveals that humans prefer pool punishment to maintain the commons. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences (London), 279(1743), 3716-3721. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0937.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-E888-D
Abstract
Punishment can stabilize costly cooperation and ensure the success of a common project that is threatened by free-riders. Punishment mechanisms can be classified into pool punishment, where the punishment act is carried out by a paid third party, (e.g. a police system or a sheriff), and peer punishment, where the punishment act is carried out by peers. Which punishment mechanism is preferred when both are concurrently available within a society? In an economic experiment, we show that the majority of subjects choose pool punishment, despite being costly even in the absence of defectors, when secondorder free-riders, cooperators that do not punish, are also punished. Pool punishers are mutually enforcing their support for the punishment organization, stably trapping each other. Our experimental results show how organized punishment could have displaced individual punishment in human societies.