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The social structure of cooperation and punishment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2012

Herbert Gintis
Affiliation:
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM 87501. hgintis@comcast.net
Ernst Fehr
Affiliation:
Department of Economics and Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research, University of Zurich, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland. efehr@iew.unizh.ch
Corresponding

Abstract

The standard theories of cooperation in humans, which depend on repeated interaction and reputation effects among self-regarding agents, are inadequate. Strong reciprocity, a predisposition to participate in costly cooperation and the punishment, fosters cooperation where self-regarding behaviors fail. The effectiveness of socially coordinated punishment depends on individual motivations to participate, which are based on strong reciprocity motives. The relative infrequency of high-cost punishment is a result of the ubiquity of strong reciprocity, not its absence.

Type
Open Peer Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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