CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chmura et al on an Experimental Measure of Selfishness as a Criminological Tool

Thorsten Chmura , Christoph Engel , Markus Englerth and Thomas Pitz  (University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics , Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods , affiliation not provided to SSRN and University of Bonn) have posted At the Mercy of the Prisoner Next Door: Using an Experimental Measure of Selfishness as a Criminological Tool (MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2010/27) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Do criminals maximise money? Are criminals more or less selfish than the average subject? Can prisons apply measures that reduce the degree of selfishness of their inmates? Using a tried and tested tool from experimental economics, we cast new light on these old criminological questions. In a standard dictator game, prisoners give a substantial amount, which calls for more refined versions of utility in rational choice theories of crime. Prisoners do not give less than average subjects, not even than subjects from other closely knit communities. This speaks against the idea that people commit crimes because they are excessively selfish. Finally those who receive better marks at prison school give more, as do those who improve their marks over time. This suggests that this correctional intervention also reduces selfishness.

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