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Punishment deters crime because humans are bounded in their strategic decision-making


Rauhut, Heiko; Junker, Marcel (2009). Punishment deters crime because humans are bounded in their strategic decision-making. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 12(3):online.

Abstract

Is it rational to reduce criminal activities if punishments are increased? While intuition might suggest so, game theory concludes differently. From the game theoretical perspective, inspectors anticipate the effect of increased punishments on criminal behavior and reduce their inspection activities accordingly. This implies that higher punishments reduce inspections and do not affect crime rates. We present two laboratory experiments, which challenge this perspective by demonstrating that both, criminals and inspectors, are affected by punishment levels. Thereupon, we investigate with agent-based simulations, whether models of bounded rationality can explain our empirical data. We differentiate between two kinds of bounded rationality; the first considers bounded learning from social interaction, the second bounded decision-making. Our results suggest that humans show both kinds of bounded rationality in the strategic situation of crime, control and punishment. We conclude that it is not the rationality but the bounded rationality in humans that makes punishment effective.

Is it rational to reduce criminal activities if punishments are increased? While intuition might suggest so, game theory concludes differently. From the game theoretical perspective, inspectors anticipate the effect of increased punishments on criminal behavior and reduce their inspection activities accordingly. This implies that higher punishments reduce inspections and do not affect crime rates. We present two laboratory experiments, which challenge this perspective by demonstrating that both, criminals and inspectors, are affected by punishment levels. Thereupon, we investigate with agent-based simulations, whether models of bounded rationality can explain our empirical data. We differentiate between two kinds of bounded rationality; the first considers bounded learning from social interaction, the second bounded decision-making. Our results suggest that humans show both kinds of bounded rationality in the strategic situation of crime, control and punishment. We conclude that it is not the rationality but the bounded rationality in humans that makes punishment effective.

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13 citations in Web of Science®
6 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:30 Apr 2014 07:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:51
Publisher:University of Surrey, Department of Sociology
ISSN:1460-7425
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/12/3/1.html
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-95638

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