Both loved and feared: third party punishers are viewed as formidable and likeable, but these reputational benefits may only be open to dominant individuals
Gordon, David S.
Lea, Stephen E.G.
Public Library of Science
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Third party punishment can be evolutionarily stable if there is heterogeneity in the cost of punishment or if punishers receive a reputational benefit from their actions. A dominant position might allow some individuals to punish at a lower cost than others and by doing so access these reputational benefits. Three vignette-based studies measured participants' judgements of a third party punisher in comparison to those exhibiting other aggressive/dominant behaviours (Study 1), when there was variation in the success of punishment (Study 2), and variation in the status of the punisher and the type of punishment used (Study 3). Third party punishers were judged to be more likeable than (but equally dominant as) those who engaged in other types of dominant behaviour (Study 1), were judged to be equally likeable and dominant whether their intervention succeeded or failed (Study 2), and participants believed that only a dominant punisher could intervene successfully (regardless of whether punishment was violent or non-violent) and that subordinate punishers would face a higher risk of retaliation (Study 3). The results suggest that dominance can dramatically reduce the cost of punishment, and that while individuals can gain a great deal of reputational benefit from engaging in third party punishment, these benefits are only open to dominant individuals. Taking the status of punishers into account may therefore help explain the evolution of third party punishment.
School of Psychology, University of Exeter
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Copyright: © 2014 Gordon et al.
The datasets associated with this article are available in ORE at http://hdl.handle.net/10871/15639
Vol. 9, pp. e110045 -
Place of publication