Reputational benefit of punishment: Comparison among the punisher, rewarder, and non-sanctioner

  • Hiroki Ozono Graduate School of Economics, Waseda University
  • Motoki Watabe Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Waseda University
Keywords: punishment, cooperation, reputation, sanction, reward


Many researchers have suggested that a sanctioning system is necessary to achieve cooperation in a large society. Sanctioning others, however, is costly, raising the question of what exactly is the adaptive advantage of sanctioning. One possible answer is that sanctioners get reputational benefit. While the reputational benefits accruing to punishers and nonpunishers have been compared in previous studies, in the present study we directly compared the reputational benefit of punisher, rewarder, and non-sanctioner. We conducted a scenario experiment in which participants were asked to play several games, such as the Ultimatum Game, Dictator Game, and Chicken Game with punisher, rewarder, and non-sanctioner. While in previous studies, punishers have gotten better reputational benefit as providers of resources than have non-sanctioners, we found that punishers received worse reputations than did rewarders or non-sanctioners in all games used in our experiment. These results suggest that reputational benefits change according to what kind of sanction individuals can exercise.
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