Second-order free riders, who do not owe punishment cost to first-order free riders in public goods games, lead to low cooperation. Previous studies suggest that for stable cooperation, it is critical to have a pool punishment system with second-order punishment, which gathers resources from group members and punishes second-order free riders as well as first-order free riders. In this study, we focus on the priority of punishment. We hypothesize that the pool punishment system that prioritizes second-order punishment is more likely to achieve cooperation than the system that prioritizes first-order punishment, because the former is more likely to obtain sufficient punishment resources. In the experiments, we compare four pool punishment systems: 1To2 (first-order punishment to second-order punishment), 2To1 (second-order punishment to first-order punishment), 1ONLY (first-order punishment only), and 2ONLY (second-order punishment only). We find that the 2To1 and 2ONLY systems can receive more support than the 1To2 and 1ONLY systems and only the 2To1 system can achieve high cooperation. However, the effect of priority of second-order punishment is observed only when the punishment ratio (PR) is low (Experiment 1), not high (Experiment 2), in which the punishment resource is relatively abundant.
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