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FOLK RETRIBUTIVISM AND THE COMMUNICATION CONFOUND

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2013

Thomas Nadelhoffer
Affiliation:
College of Charleston, USA
Saeideh Heshmati
Affiliation:
University of Arizona, USA
Deanna Kaplan
Affiliation:
University of Arizona, USA
Shaun Nichols
Affiliation:
University of Arizona, USAshaunbnichols@gmail.com

Abstract

Retributivist accounts of punishment maintain that it is right to punish wrongdoers, even if the punishment has no future benefits. Research in experimental economics indicates that people are willing to pay to punish defectors. A complementary line of work in social psychology suggests that people think that it is right to punish wrongdoers. This work suggests that people are retributivists about punishment. However, all of the extant work contains an important potential confound. The target of the punishment is expected to be aware of the punitive act. Thus, it's possible that people punish because they want to communicate something to the wrongdoer, e.g. disapproval, the presence of a norm, etc. In three studies, we examine whether people will punish even when the punishee will be ignorant. We find that people are no less likely to punish when the punishee will be ignorant. This finding emerges both in a survey study and in a monetized behavioural decision study.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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