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Ubiquity and efficiency of restrictions on informal punishment rights

Eriksson, Kimmo, Strimling, Pontus, Ehn, Micael (2013) Ubiquity and efficiency of restrictions on informal punishment rights. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 11 (1). pp. 17-34. ISSN 1789-2082. E-ISSN 2060-5587. (doi:10.1556/JEP.11.2013.1.3) (KAR id:65483)


Over-punishment often occurs in anonymous peer-to-peer punishment in public goods game experiments where punishment is free for all. We report a public goods game experiment in which a condition where punishment rights were restricted to one other player per player yielded higher total welfare than a condition with unrestricted punishment. In the restricted punishment condition, there was much less punishment but high levels of cooperation were achieved nonetheless. This indicates that it may be beneficial to groups to restrict punishment rights. In a second study we presented respondents from many different countries with three scenarios constituting everyday social dilemmas of various kinds. Across countries, respondents tended to judge it as inappropriate for most involved parties to punish selfish individuals in the scenarios. Typically, only one party was judged to have the right to punish. Whereas much prior work has considered punishment as a public good that needs to be encouraged, these findings suggest that informal norms about sanctions tend to constrain punishment to certain individuals. Such norms may serve the function to harness the positive effects of punishment while containing the negative effects, and we suggest that they are likely to arise from learning.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1556/JEP.11.2013.1.3
Additional information: Included in Kimmo Eriksson's PhD thesis "Informal punishment of non-cooperators"
Uncontrolled keywords: cooperation; punishment; rewards; social norms; right to punish
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 18:08 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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