Re: [evol-psych] Collective action & punishment
- Michael Price wrote:
For everyone on this list interested in collective action and
punishment, I wanted to mention an excellent paper that illuminates
the way in which collective action participants define "free
Just a theory.
I've included download links for each of the papers cited (below my
signoff). The last one (as always) was the hardest to find. Curious, as
the author of that paper is the same one that authored this note (or his
namesake). Find his web page at
includes links to his papers.
Note that my links below are to PDF files. The best strategy is to download
them first and then read them off your own hard drive. For PC users,
right-mouse-click on the URL and choose 'Save-target-as..." from the context
Robert Karl Stonjek.
Falk, A., Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2001). Driving forces of
informal sanctions. Working paper No. 59, Institute for Empirical
Research in Economics, University of Zurich.
[PDF, 47 Pages, 258k]
Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans.
[PDF, 4 Pages, 98kb]
Gintis, H. (2000). Strong reciprocity and human sociality. Journal
of Theoretical Biology 206:169-179.
[PDF, 19 pages, 135kb]
Masclet, D., Noussair, C., Tucker, S., & Villeval, Marie-Claire.
Monetary and nonmonetary punishment in the voluntary contributions
mechanism. American Economic Review 93:366-380.
[PDF, 15 pages, 294kb]
Price, M. E., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2002). Punitive sentiment as an
anti-free rider psychological device. Evolution and Human
[PDF, 29 Pages, 205kb]
- There seems to be a general oversimplification in this idea when applied to
humans and just a little one sided. Firstly, we should consider group
punishment, that is, by tribal law or tradition, and individual punishment,
that is, what an individual might do to correct an injustice (mentioned
above is the free rider).
But I perceive in modern society that perception (generally) plays a part in
who is going to be dubbed a free rider. Those who are so dubbed may
actually work or be prepared to work quite hard. Unemployment, for
instance, is usually involuntary.
Perception distorts the view in another direction (the other side I
mentioned). Those that are not doing nearly so well (not necessarily
freeloaders) often perceive those who are doing particularly well as lazy,
lucky, perhaps thieving (from the poor) and 'freeloading'.
This is an important point, because if perception is thrown into the mix we
can not, objectively, identify those in a population who are freeloading in
the opinion of the members of that population. The less well off will see
the wealthy, who may work very hard in a non-physical way (using their
minds, for instance) as lazy freeloaders.
When we now introduce the group rule, that is, tribal law and tradition or
group action against perceived 'freeloaders', we begin to see revolutionary
action taken by the not rich against the perceived (wealthy) freeloaders.
The evolutionary implications, then, should centre as much on the perception
of individuals with regard to other individuals as on the reason for the
treatment of those who are perceived as freeloader.
If one takes a very broad look at populations, it is the under and over
achievers that are at greatest risk from punishment by their opposite ie
under achiever attempts to moderate the over achiever (bringing them toward
the centre) and over achiever tries to force the under achiever up.
In both cases, the perception is of an individual who is getting more than
their fair share of the available resources. In the simple hunting party,
the successful hunter must share, the failure must beg or pay some sort of
homage to the successful hunter.
All part of a social forming imperative, necessary for humans to form
societies. We are ready to lose the above trait - it served us well, but
we've moved on from tribal days :)
Robert Karl Stonjek.