Justice Sensitivity, Moral Emotions, and Altruistic Punishment
29 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010
Why do some people engage in costly bystander intervention against norm violations without any personal direct or indirect gains? The present study investigates justice sensitivity and moral emotions as determinants of such altruistic punishment. We propose that the individual strength of other-directed justice concerns explains the willingness to altruistically punish wrongdoers. Moreover, we show that moral emotions provide the driving motivation and mediate the effect of justice sensitivity on altruistic punishment. Results of an experimental study (N = 91) show such a mediation effect for justice sensitivity from the beneficiary perspective, but not for observer and victim sensitivity. Further, the study investigates reasons for defaulted punishment. The results suggest that selfishness is not the only reason for not punishing. While people high in beneficiary and observer sensitivity rather argue based on moral reasons or admit to feel guilty for not engaging in altruistic punishment, people high in victim-sensitivity provide reasons mainly based on selfish concerns. Taken together, the study provides important insight in the motivations involved in altruistic punishment.
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