Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Experiments combining communication with punishment options demonstrate how individuals can overcome social dilemmas

Elinor Ostroma1

a1 Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47408.


Guala raises important questions about the misinterpretation of experimental studies that have found that subjects engage in costly punishment. Instead of positing that punishment is the solution for social dilemmas, earlier research posited that when individuals facing a social dilemma agreed on their own rules and used graduated sanctions, they were more likely to have robust solutions over time.

Related Articles

    Reciprocity: Weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate Francesco Guala Department of Economics, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy.