Exploring Undermining Cooperation Effect of Punishment in Social Dilemma Contexts

  • Keiko Mizuno Kwansei Gakuin University / Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Hiroshi Shimizu Kwansei Gakuin University


Previous research on social dilemmas indicates that the introduction and subsequent removal of punishment mechanisms may diminish trust among participants. Yet, empirical evidence concerning the behavioral consequences of punishment elimination on cooperation remains scarce. This study presents the concept of the Undermining Cooperation Effect of Punishment (UCEP) to operationalize the decrease in cooperation following punishment removal, in contrast to a control group never subjected to punishment. We sought to evaluate whether punishment precipitates UCEP empirically. Our pre-registered experiment yielded no significant evidence supporting UCEP; notably, cooperation levels did not endure post-punishment removal. These results contribute to the evolving discourse surrounding the intricate relationships among punishment mechanisms, trust, and cooperative behavior. They also invite further exploration into the potential counterbalancing impacts of punishment on cooperation and UCEP.

Original Articles