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Analyzing the Advantages of Peer-Punishment for Enhancing Cooperation


Migration options and contributions across rounds in each lab. Credit: Lo Iacono et al

A multi-laboratory replication of a 2006 study supports the role of peer punishment in promoting human cooperation. Collaboration is imperative for society to successfully solve complex problems, including climate change. One technique many groups have adopted is the peer punishment system for non-cooperators.

Such a system incurs costs for the participants, who have to impose penalties, but it can allow collaborators to feel more secure that their investment in the joint venture will be matched by others. A 2006 study indicated that peer-punished groups outperformed non-peer-punished groups. In light of the current repetition crisis in the social sciences,

Sergio Lo Iacono and colleagues attempted to replicate the 2006 study at seven sites in Europe. Each iteration had 144 participants. Participants interacted anonymously in groups of 12 for 30 rounds. In each round, each participant can choose to join a sanctioning group or a non-punishing group. Then, each participant chose 20 tokens to contribute to the pool. These tokens will be multiplied by 1.6 and divided equally among the group members.

In groups with penalizing establishments, there was a second phase of play, where participants could “punish” participants who had not contributed sufficiently to the group’s project by withdrawing their tokens – but at a cost to themselves.

In five of the seven iterations, the original pattern from the 2006 study continued: the majority of participants eventually chose to join groups with a punishing institution, and participants in punishment groups cooperated and benefited more on average than participants in groups without punishments. institution. In the remaining two sites, results were weaker than in the original study yet still favored sanctioning institutions.

Overall, these results show that the emergence and persistence of sanctioning institutions to support cooperation in dilemmas of public goods is a robust phenomenon in the European context, according to the authors. The paper has been published in the journal PNAS Nexus.

more information:
Sergio Lo Iacono et al., The Competitive Advantage of Sanctioning Organizations Revisited: Multifactorial Replication, PNAS Nexus (2023). DOI: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad091

the quote: Examining How Cooperation Benefits Peer Punishment (2023, May 3), Retrieved May 3, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-cooperation-benefits-peer-punishment.html

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