Punishment mechanisms and their effect on cooperation: A simulation study.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In social dilemmas punishment costs resources, not just from the one who is punished but often also from the punisher and society. Reciprocity on the other side is known to lead to cooperation without the costs of punishment. The questions at hand are whether punishment brings advantages besides its costs, and how its negative side-effects can be reduced to a minimum in an environment populated by agents adopting a form of reciprocity. Various punishment mechanisms have been studied in the economic literature such as unrestricted punishment, legitimate punishment, cooperative punishment, and the hired gun mechanism. In this study all these mechanisms are implemented in a simulation where agents can share resources and may decide to punish other agents when the other agents do not share. Through evolutionary learning agents adapt their sharing/punishing policy. When the availability of resources was restricted, punishment mechanisms in general performed better than no-punishment, although unrestricted punishment was performing worse. When resource availability was high, performance was better in no-punishment conditions with indirect reciprocity. Unrestricted punishment was always the worst performing mechanism. Summarized, this paper shows that, in certain environments, some punishment mechanisms can improve the efficiency of cooperation even if the cooperating system is already based on indirect reciprocity.

Details

Authors
External organisations
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • University of Trento
  • Radboud University Nijmegen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Keywords

  • Public Goods Games, Punishment, Cooperation, Reciprocity, Evolution of Cooperation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5
JournalJournal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
Volume18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
Externally publishedYes