Second-party and third-party punishment in a public goods experiment

Yan Zhou, Peiran Jiao, Qilin Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Abstract we experimentally investigate whether third-party punishment is more effective than second-party punishment to increase public goods contribution. In our experiment, third parties first played the standard public goods game and then made punishment decisions as independent bystanders. We find that third parties punished more frequently, severely and less antisocially, resulting in a higher contribution level than that driven by second-party punishment. The third party’s exaggerated emotion towards free riders is proposed to explain their superior punishment effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-57
JournalApplied Economics Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

JEL classifications

  • h41 - Public Goods
  • c92 - Design of Experiments: Laboratory, Group Behavior
  • d70 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making: General


  • Third-party punishment
  • second-party punishment
  • public goods experiment
  • free rider

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