Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

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Volume 32 Issue 3 (July 2019), Pages 229-372

The effect of decision timing on the willingness to costly reward cooperation and punish noncooperation: Sanctioning the past, the present, or the future (pages 241-254)

Abstract Numerous studies have demonstrated that sanctions can promote cooperation. However, it is important to know not only that sanctions can work but also under what conditions people are actually willing to sanction cooperation positively (i.e., reward) or noncooperation negatively (i.e., punish). In this article, we demonstrate that people use sanctions less often and sanction more mildly when they decide about sanctioning before (instead of after) the occurrence of others' (non)cooperation (Experiments 1 and 2), regardless of whether they decide directly afterwards or after a time delay (Experiment 2). Moreover, we reveal that beforehand (as compared with afterwards) people have not yet formed clear sanctioning preferences (Experiment 3). These findings corroborate our reasoning that the decision environment beforehand induces nonconsequential reasoning and thereby hampers people's willingness to sanction. We discuss the theoretical, methodological, and practical implications of our work.

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