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Social hierarchies: a laboratory study on punishment patterns across networks
journal contributionposted on 22.03.2019 by Enrique Fatas, Miguel A. Melendez-Jimenez, Hector Solaz
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We experimentally study punishment patterns across network structures, and their effect on cooperation. In a repeated public goods setting, subjects can only observe and punish their neighbors. Centralized structures (like the star network) outperform other incomplete networks and reach contribution levels like the ones observed in a complete network. Our results suggest that hierarchical network structures with a commonly observed player benefit more from sanctions not because central players punish more, but because they follow, and promote, different punishment patterns. While quasi-central players in other incomplete architectures (like the line network) retaliate, and get trapped in the vicious circle of antisocial punishment, central players in the star network do not punish back, increase their contributions when sanctioned by peripheral players, and sanction other participants in a prosocial manner. Our results illustrate recent field studies on the evolutionary prevalence of hierarchical networks. We document a network-based rationale for this positive effect in an identity-free, fully anonymous environment.
Enrique Fatas acknowledges support from the ESRC Network for an Integrated Behavioral Science (NIBS). Miguel A. Meléndez-Jiménez acknowledges financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through Project ECO2014-52345-P and from the Regional Government of Andalusia through Project SEJ2011-8065.
- Business and Economics