Can Violence Harm Cooperation? Experimental Evidence

Giacomo Davide De Luca, Petros G. Sekeris, Dominic Emanuel Spengler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we argue that natural resource conservation is jeopardised by the ability of users to resort to violence to appropriate resources when they become scarce. We provide evidence from a lab experiment that participants interacting in a dynamic game of common pool resource extraction reduce their cooperation on efficient levels of resource extraction when given the possibility to appropriate the resource at some cost, i.e. through conflict. Theoretically, cooperation is achievable via the threat of punishment strategies, which stop being subgame perfect in the presence of conflict. Accordingly we argue that the observed reduction of cooperation in the game's early stages in the lab is a consequence of participants (correctly) anticipating the use of appropriation when resources become scarce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-359
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Early online date5 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Cooperation
  • Dynamic game
  • Experiment
  • Natural resource exploitation

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