Strategic vs Non-Strategic Motivations of Sanctioning

J. Vyrastekova, Y. Funaki, A. Takeuchi

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We isolate strategic and non-strategic motivations of sanctioning in a repeated public goods game. In two experimental treatments, subjects play the public goods game with the possibility to sanction others. In the STANDARD sanctions treatment, each subject learns about the sanctions received in the same round as they were assigned, but in the SECRET sanctions treatment, sanctions are announced only after the experiment is finished, removing in this way all strategic reasons to punish. We find that sanctioning is similar in both treatments, giving support for nonstrategic explanations of sanctions (altruistic punishment). Interestingly, contributions to the public good in both treatments with sanctioning are higher than when the public goods game is played without any sanctioning, irrespective of announcing the sanctions to their receivers during the play of the game, or only after the game is finished. The mere knowledge that sanctions might be assigned increases cooperation: subjects correctly expect that nonstrategic sanctioning takes place against freeriders.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • altruistic punishment
  • nonstrategic sanctions
  • strategic sanctions
  • public goods
  • economic experiment


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