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Games 2017, 8(1), 5; doi:10.3390/g8010005

Anger Management: Aggression and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods

1
Department of Economics, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA
2
Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Roman Sheremeta and Eric Schniter
Received: 2 November 2016 / Revised: 4 January 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2017 / Published: 22 January 2017
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Abstract

The ability to punish free-riders can increase the provision of public goods. However, sometimes, the benefit of increased public good provision is outweighed by the costs of punishments. One reason a group may punish to the point that net welfare is reduced is that punishment can express anger about free-riding. If this is the case, then tools that regulate emotions could decrease the use of punishments while keeping welfare high, possibly depending on pre-existing levels of aggression. In this lab experiment, we find that adopting an objective attitude (objective), through a form of emotion regulation called cognitive reappraisal, decreases the use of punishments and makes a statistically insignificant improvement to both net earnings and self-reported emotions compared to a control condition (natural). Although the interaction between the emotion regulation treatment and level of aggression is not significant, only low aggression types reduce their punishments; the results are of the same direction, but statistically insignificant for high aggression types. Overall, our findings suggest that pairing emotion regulation with punishments can decrease the use of punishments without harming monetary and mental welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: public goods; punishment; emotions public goods; punishment; emotions
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gee, L.K.; Lyu, X.; Urry, H. Anger Management: Aggression and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods. Games 2017, 8, 5.

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