punishment

Not Exactly Rocket Science

Tag archives for punishment

If someone at ⁞your workplace offends a client or a customer, they’d probably get an earful from their colleagues or boss. If someone annoys a friend of yours, you’d probably have a go at them. This capacity to punish those who behave badly, even if they haven’t wronged us personally, pervades all aspects of human…

When it comes to encouraging people to work together for the greater good, carrots work better than sticks. That’s the message from a new study showing that rewarding people for good behaviour is better at promoting cooperation than punishing them for offences. David Rand from Harvard University asked teams of volunteers to play “public goods…

People seem inordinately keen to pit nature and nurture as imagined adversaries, but this naive view glosses over the far more interesting interactions between the two. These interactions between genes and environment lie at the heart of a new study by Rose McDermott from Brown University, which elegantly fuses two of my favourite topics –…

Why punishment is worth it in the end

Is punishment a destructive force that breaks societies or part of the very glue that holds them together? Last year, I blogged about two studies that tried to answer this question using similar psychological games. In both, volunteers played with tokens that were eventually exchanged for money. They had the option to either cooperate with…

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a Science paper which looked at the effects of punishment in different societies across the world. Through a series of fascinating psychological experiments, the paper showed that the ability to punish freeloaders stabilises cooperative behaviour, bringing out the selfless side in people by making things more difficult for cheaters.…

Punishing slackers and do-gooders

Humans have an extraordinary capacity for selflessness. We often help complete strangers who are unrelated to us, who we may never meet again and who are unlikely to be able to return the favour. More and more, we are being asked to behave in selfless ways to further the common good, not least in the…