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The Value of vengeance and the demand for deterrence


Crockett, Molly J; Ozdemir, Yagiz; Fehr, Ernst (2014). The Value of vengeance and the demand for deterrence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(6):2279-2286.

Abstract

Humans will incur costs to punish others who violate social norms. Theories of justice highlight 2 motives for punishment: a forward-looking deterrence of future norm violations and a backward-looking retributive desire to harm. Previous studies of costly punishment have not isolated how much people are willing to pay for retribution alone, because typically punishment both inflicts damage (satisfying the retributive motive) and communicates a norm violation (satisfying the deterrence motive). Here, we isolated retributive motives by examining how much people will invest in punishment when the punished individual will never learn about the punishment. Such "hidden" punishment cannot deter future norm violations but was nevertheless frequently used by both 2nd-party victims and 3rd-party observers of norm violations, indicating that retributive motives drive punishment decisions independently from deterrence goals. While self-reports of deterrence motives correlated with deterrence-related punishment behavior, self-reports of retributive motives did not correlate with retributive punishment behavior. Our findings reveal a preference for pure retribution that can lead to punishment without any social benefits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Abstract

Humans will incur costs to punish others who violate social norms. Theories of justice highlight 2 motives for punishment: a forward-looking deterrence of future norm violations and a backward-looking retributive desire to harm. Previous studies of costly punishment have not isolated how much people are willing to pay for retribution alone, because typically punishment both inflicts damage (satisfying the retributive motive) and communicates a norm violation (satisfying the deterrence motive). Here, we isolated retributive motives by examining how much people will invest in punishment when the punished individual will never learn about the punishment. Such "hidden" punishment cannot deter future norm violations but was nevertheless frequently used by both 2nd-party victims and 3rd-party observers of norm violations, indicating that retributive motives drive punishment decisions independently from deterrence goals. While self-reports of deterrence motives correlated with deterrence-related punishment behavior, self-reports of retributive motives did not correlate with retributive punishment behavior. Our findings reveal a preference for pure retribution that can lead to punishment without any social benefits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

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5 citations in Web of Science®
8 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:punishment; retribution; deterrence; retaliation; social norms
Language:English
Date:6 October 2014
Deposited On:03 Nov 2014 08:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:28
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0096-3445
Additional Information:This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000018
PubMed ID:25285429

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