kudos te kai aidos

Dave Long dl@silcom.com
Thu, 24 Jan 2002 09:19:03 -0800

Fehr & Gaechter, "Altruistic Punishment in Humans"
NATURE | Vol 415 | 10 January 2002 p.137
> Everybody in the group will be better off if free riding is deterred,
> but nobody has an incentive to punish the free riders.  Thus, the
> punishment of free riders constitutes a second-order public good.

... but appears that undergrads
(at least) tend to be biased to
punishing free riders.


> Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle.  Unlike other
> creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically
> unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they
> will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small
> or absent.  These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained
> by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary
> theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated
> with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism.
> Here we show experimentally that the altruistic punishment of
> defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation.
> Altruistic punishment means that individuals punish, although
> the punishment is costly for them and yields no material
> gain.  We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic
> punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out.
> The evidence suggests that negative emotions towards defectors
> are the proximate mechanism behind altruistic punishment.
> These results suggest that further study of the evolution of
> human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining
> altruistic punishment.