Reward Outperforms Punishment in Repeated Public Goods Games

In a recent study published by the online journal Science, researchers found that “reward outperforms punishment in repeated public goods games and that human cooperation in such repeated settings is best supported by positive interactions with others.” This study was conducted through the use of a lab experiment comparing the use of punishment, reward, or both in public goods games. The researchers found that in repeated games, in which player identities persist from round to round, reward is as effective as punishment for “maintaining public cooperation and leads to higher total earnings.” Moreover, when “both options are available, reward leads to increased contributions and payoff, whereas punishment has no effect on contributions and leads to lower payoff.”