Punishment for Improving Cooperation

Posted by Beetle B. on Fri 04 November 2016

Reciprocal altruism theory explains why altruism/fairness behavior develops among pairs (tit for tat) but does not explain it for groups.

Punishing is very effective in increasing group cooperation. Even when you remove tit-for-tat possibility (i.e. punish someone you will never meet again), people do it, and as a group, it is effective in changing behavior.

When you take away punishment, cooperation really goes down.

Punishing activates pleasure centers of the brain.

Egalitarianism seems to be rooted more in the hatred of domination than in the love of equality. Consider the Occupy Wall Street movement:

  • Complaining about income inequality had no effect for so many years.
  • Complaining that the rich got rich by cheating had a large effect.

Want equality in pay when inputs (effort expended) is roughly equal. But not when inputs are widely unequal (a person works a lot whereas his colleague barely works).

This may explain the emphasis on efforts expended vs effectiveness.

The Fairness foundation is not just about protecting the individual, but also about protecting the group. We need to punish cheaters to ensure cooperation continues.

Current triggers include those who rely on safety nets when their situation is not dire.

tags : trm, morality, Haidt