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Antisocial Punishment Across Societies

Benedikt Herrmann, Christian Thoeni & Simon Gächter

abstract We document the widespread existence of antisocial punishment, that is, the sanctioning of people who behave prosocially. Our evidence comes from public goods experiments that we conducted in 16 comparable participant pools around the world. However, there is a huge cross-societal variation. Some participant pools punished the high contributors as much as they punished the low contributors, whereas in others people only punished low contributors. In some participant pools, antisocial punishment was strong enough to remove the cooperation-enhancing effect of punishment. We also show that weak norms of civic cooperation and the weakness of the rule of law in a country are significant predictors of antisocial punishment. Our results show that punishment opportunities are socially beneficial only if complemented by strong social norms of cooperation
   
type journal paper
   
keywords cooperation, experiments, fairness, punishment, sociology
   
language English
kind of paper journal article
date of appearance 7-3-2008
journal Science
publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Washington (Washington, DC)
ISSN 0036-8075
DOI 10.1126/science.1153808
volume of journal 319
number of issue 5868
page(s) 1362-1367
review blind review
   
citation Herrmann, B., Thoeni, C., & Gächter, S. (2008). Antisocial Punishment Across Societies. Science, 319(5868), 1362-1367, DOI:10.1126/science.1153808.