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'Altruistic' and 'Antisocial' Punishers are One and the Same

Eriksson, Kimmo, Cownden, Daniel, Ehn, Micael, Strimling, Pontus (2014) 'Altruistic' and 'Antisocial' Punishers are One and the Same. Review of Behavioral Economics, 1 (3). pp. 209-221. ISSN 2326-6198. (doi:10.1561/105.00000009) (KAR id:65482)


In certain economic experiments, some participants willingly pay a cost to punish peers who contribute too little to the public good. Because such punishment can lead to improved group outcomes, this costly punishment has been conceived of as altruistic. Here we provide evidence that individual variation in the propensity to punish low contributions is unrelated to altruism. First, individual use of punishment was uncorrelated with contribution to the public good, contrary to the hypothesis that punishers are proximally motivated by prosocial preferences. Second, individual use of punishment was positively correlated across situations where the use of punishment is typically group beneficial and situations where the use of punishment is typically group detrimental, as well as across situations of radically different strategic structures. These findings contrast sharply with the premise that the tendency to use punishment can fruitfully be regarded as an adaptation for solving social dilemmas.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1561/105.00000009
Additional information: Included in Kimmo Eriksson's PhD thesis "Informal punishment of non-cooperators
Uncontrolled keywords: public goods, costly punishment, cooperation, altruism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: K. Eriksson
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2017 18:00 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 06:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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