Egalitarian Motive and Altruistic Punishment

Nature, Vol. 433, January 2005

3 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Tim Johnson

Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Oleg Smirnov

State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Altruistic punishment is a behaviour in which individuals punish others at a cost to themselves in order to provide a public good. Fehr and Gächter1 present experimental evidence suggesting that negative emotions toward non-cooperators motivate punishment which, in turn, facilitates high levels of cooperation in humans. Using Fehr and Gächter's original data, we provide an alternative analysis of the experiment that suggests egalitarian motives are more important than motives to punish non-cooperative behaviour - a finding consistent with evidence that humans may have an evolutionary incentive to punish the highest earners in order to promote equality, not cooperation.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Johnson, Tim and Smirnov, Oleg, Egalitarian Motive and Altruistic Punishment. Nature, Vol. 433, January 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1007990

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Tim Johnson

Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University ( email )

900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
United States

Oleg Smirnov

State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stony Brook, 11794-4392
United States

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