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The unresponsive avenger: More evidence that disinterested third parties do not punish altruistically.
J Exp Psychol Gen. 2018 04; 147(4):514-544.JE

Abstract

Many social scientists believe humans possess an evolved motivation to punish violations of norms-including norm violations that do not harm them directly. However, most empirical evidence for so-called altruistic punishment comes from experimental economics games that create experimental demand for third-party punishment, raising the possibility that the third-party punishment uncovered in these experiments has been motivated by a desire to appear concerned about social norms rather than by actual concern about upholding them. Here we present the results of five experiments in which we used an aggression paradigm to contrast second-party and third-party punishment with minimal experimental demand. We also summarize the results of these experiments meta-analytically. We found robust evidence that participants who were insulted by a stranger experienced anger and punished the insulter. To a lesser degree, participants who witnessed a friend receive an insult also became angry and punished the insulter. In contrast, we found robust evidence that participants who witnessed a stranger receive an insult did not punish the insulter, although they did experience modest amounts of anger. In only one experiment did we find any punishment on behalf of a stranger, and this result could plausibly be explained by the desire to escape the moral censure of other bystanders. Our results suggest that experimental designs that rely on demand-laden methods to test hypotheses about third-party punishment may have overstated the case for the existence of this trait. (PsycINFO Database Record

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, University of Miami.Department of Psychology, University of Miami.Department of Psychology, University of Miami.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

29698027

Citation

Pedersen, Eric J., et al. "The Unresponsive Avenger: More Evidence That Disinterested Third Parties Do Not Punish Altruistically." Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, vol. 147, no. 4, 2018, pp. 514-544.
Pedersen EJ, McAuliffe WHB, McCullough ME. The unresponsive avenger: More evidence that disinterested third parties do not punish altruistically. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2018;147(4):514-544.
Pedersen, E. J., McAuliffe, W. H. B., & McCullough, M. E. (2018). The unresponsive avenger: More evidence that disinterested third parties do not punish altruistically. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 147(4), 514-544. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000410
Pedersen EJ, McAuliffe WHB, McCullough ME. The Unresponsive Avenger: More Evidence That Disinterested Third Parties Do Not Punish Altruistically. J Exp Psychol Gen. 2018;147(4):514-544. PubMed PMID: 29698027.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The unresponsive avenger: More evidence that disinterested third parties do not punish altruistically. AU - Pedersen,Eric J, AU - McAuliffe,William H B, AU - McCullough,Michael E, PY - 2018/4/27/entrez PY - 2018/4/27/pubmed PY - 2019/5/24/medline SP - 514 EP - 544 JF - Journal of experimental psychology. General JO - J Exp Psychol Gen VL - 147 IS - 4 N2 - Many social scientists believe humans possess an evolved motivation to punish violations of norms-including norm violations that do not harm them directly. However, most empirical evidence for so-called altruistic punishment comes from experimental economics games that create experimental demand for third-party punishment, raising the possibility that the third-party punishment uncovered in these experiments has been motivated by a desire to appear concerned about social norms rather than by actual concern about upholding them. Here we present the results of five experiments in which we used an aggression paradigm to contrast second-party and third-party punishment with minimal experimental demand. We also summarize the results of these experiments meta-analytically. We found robust evidence that participants who were insulted by a stranger experienced anger and punished the insulter. To a lesser degree, participants who witnessed a friend receive an insult also became angry and punished the insulter. In contrast, we found robust evidence that participants who witnessed a stranger receive an insult did not punish the insulter, although they did experience modest amounts of anger. In only one experiment did we find any punishment on behalf of a stranger, and this result could plausibly be explained by the desire to escape the moral censure of other bystanders. Our results suggest that experimental designs that rely on demand-laden methods to test hypotheses about third-party punishment may have overstated the case for the existence of this trait. (PsycINFO Database Record SN - 1939-2222 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/29698027/The_unresponsive_avenger:_More_evidence_that_disinterested_third_parties_do_not_punish_altruistically_ L2 - http://content.apa.org/journals/xge/147/4/514 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -