New paper in PLOSONE by Giulia Andrighetto and Daniela Grieco on peer effects on compliance with extortive requests.
We conduct laboratory experiments to study peer effects on compliance with extortive requests. To this aim, we use an “extortion game” with multiple victims. In agreement with our hypothesis, our results show that when the information on peers’ behavior is available, compliance with appropriative requests is triggered by conformism among victims rather than by punishment. Moreover, we find that extorted sums are rather small, requests are proportional to the victim’s earnings, similar across victims, and are significantly lower when the extorter self-selects into this role. Punishment is rare, but effective. Finally, our results indicate that fairness concerns matter even in a context of extra-legal taxation, shaping both extorters’ requests and victims’ compliance.