Behavioral and Brain Sciences

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

Elinor Ostroma1

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.