Ostracism and forgiveness

S. Nageeb Ali, David A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Many communities rely upon ostracism to enforce cooperation: if an individual shirks in one relationship, her innocent neighbors share information about her guilt in order to shun her, while continuing to cooperate among themselves. However, a strategic victim may herself prefer to shirk, rather than report her victimization truthfully. If guilty players are to be permanently ostracized, then such deviations are so tempting that cooperation in any relationship is bounded by what the partners could obtain through bilateral enforcement. Ostracism can improve upon bilateral enforcement if tempered by forgiveness, through which guilty players are eventually readmitted to cooperative society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2329-2348
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Ostracism and forgiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this