Daniel Villatoro, Giulia Andrighetto, Jordi Brandts, Luis Gustavo Nardin, Jordi Sabater-Mir, and Rosaria Conte: The Norm-Signaling Effects of Group Punishment: Combining Agent-Based Simulation and Laboratory Experiments Social Science Computer Review 0894439313511396, first published on December 11, 2013
Punishment plays a crucial role in favoring and maintaining social order. Recent studies emphasize the effect of the norm-signaling function of punishment. However, very little attention has been paid so far to the potential of group punishment. We claim that when inflicted by an entire group, the recipient of punishment views it as expressing norms. The experiments performed in this work provide evidence that humans are motivated not only by material incentives that punishment imposes but also by normative information that it conveys. The same material incentive has a different effect on the individuals’ future compliance depending on the way it is implemented, having a stronger effect when it also conveys normative information. We put forward the hypothesis that by inflicting equal material incentives, group punishment is more effective in enhancing compliance than uncoordinated punishment, because it takes advantage of the norm-signaling function of punishment. In support of our hypothesis, we present cross-methodological data, that is, data obtained through agent-based simulation and laboratory experiments with human subjects. The combination of these two methods allows us to provide an explanation for the proximate mechanisms generating the cooperative behavior observed in the laboratory experiment.