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Cultural Universals and Cultural Differences in Meta-Norms about Peer Punishment

  • Kimmo Eriksson (a1) (a2), Pontus Strimling (a1) (a3), Per A. Andersson (a4), Mark Aveyard (a5), Markus Brauer (a6), Vladimir Gritskov (a7), Toko Kiyonari (a8), David M. Kuhlman (a9), Angela T. Maitner (a5), Zoi Manesi (a10), Catherine Molho (a10), Leonard S. Peperkoorn (a10), Muhammad Rizwan (a11), Adam W. Stivers (a12), Qirui Tian (a13), Paul A. M. Van Lange (a10), Irina Vartanova (a3) (a14), Junhui Wu (a15) and Toshio Yamagishi (a16)...

Violators of cooperation norms may be informally punished by their peers. How such norm enforcement is judged by others can be regarded as a meta-norm (i.e., a second-order norm). We examined whether meta-norms about peer punishment vary across cultures by having students in eight countries judge animations in which an agent who over-harvested a common resource was punished either by a single peer or by the entire peer group. Whether the punishment was retributive or restorative varied between two studies, and findings were largely consistent across these two types of punishment. Across all countries, punishment was judged as more appropriate when implemented by the entire peer group than by an individual. Differences between countries were revealed in judgments of punishers vs. non-punishers. Specifically, appraisals of punishers were relatively negative in three Western countries and Japan, and more neutral in Pakistan, UAE, Russia, and China, consistent with the influence of individualism, power distance, and/or indulgence. Our studies constitute a first step in mapping how meta-norms vary around the globe, demonstrating both cultural universals and cultural differences.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Kimmo Eriksson (
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