FSD3661 Effect of Punishment and Justification Treatments on Contributions in a Trust Game Experiment 2016

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behavioural sciences, decision making, human behaviour, punishment, rewards, trust

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The study examined the effect of punishment and justification treatments on participants' behaviour in a trust game experiment. The data were collected during a computer-based decision-making experiment where the subjects participated in a three-player variant of the trust game with two senders and one responder.

The experiment consisted of six rounds that each had three stages. The participants were given points throughout the game, and a sum was rewarded to them at the end of the experiment based on the amount of their points: two points corresponded to one euro. The reward sum was paid based on the result of a single randomly selected round of the experiment, which was chosen with the roll of a six-sided dice. The senders chose how the points were shared during the first stage of each round, while the responders made the decision during the second stage. Before the start of the experiment, the participants were randomly divided into four groups: Punishment, Justification, Punishment and Justification, and Baseline. Senders in the Punishment group were able to punish the responder during stage 3 of the round by reducing the responder's points at the cost of their own points. Responders in the Justification group had to justify their decisions during stage 2 of the round, and the justifications were shown to the senders before stage 3. In the Punishment and Justification group, responders had to justify their decisions in stage 2, and the senders could punish the responder after reading the justifications at the beginning of stage 3. In the Baseline group, the experiment was conducted without the punishment and justification treatments.

In the first stage of each round, the senders made an independent decision on how many points they wanted to share with the responder. In the second stage, the responder sent points back to the senders, and those in the Justification group also wrote down reasons for their decision. In the third stage, all participants received 12 additional points, and the decisions and points from the previous rounds were shown to all participants. Senders in the Punishment and Punishment and Justification groups were able to reduce the responder's points at this stage at the cost of their own additional points.

After the experiment, the participants responded to a survey. Questions examined, for example, the participants' trust in other people and institutions, activity in civic organisations and volunteer work, and donations to charity. Further questions surveyed the participants' emotions in various situations as well as their views on human behaviour in general. Additionally, the participants' social relationships, religiosity, opinions on political issues, and political party preference were charted. Background variables included the participant's year of birth, gender, household composition, and the year when the participant had started their university studies.

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