Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Intergroup Bias Influences Third-Party Punishment and Compensation: In-Group Relationships Attenuate Altruistic Punishment

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Intergroup Bias Influences Third-Party Punishment and Compensation: In-Group Relationships Attenuate Altruistic Punishment

Article excerpt

Human beings act in accordance with social norms, which permit the building of social groups (Fehr & Fischbacher, 2004). The existence of third-party sanctions is the essence of maintaining social norms (Bendor & Swistak, 2001) and social groups, whereby impartial third parties adjudicate. For example, courts intervene when transgressions against the law occur. In this way, third parties provide the framework for group-based predictable human social behavior.

To explore third-party behavior, researchers often use a third-party punishment task, such as the dictator game (DG; Güth, Schmittberger, & Schwarze, 1982; Hu, Strang, & Weber, 2015; Leliveld, van Dijk, & van Beest, 2012). In this game, the proposer receives an endowment that he/she can split however he/she wishes between him-/herself and another recipient who has no recourse for arguing about the amount each person receives. Participants who observe the DG as third parties to this exchange might choose to punish the proposer following an unfair distribution. In this game, and in many situations in everyday life, punishment, which is used in general as a deterrent and to prevent potential or prior offenders from committing future violations (Carlsmith, Darley, & Robinson, 2002), is the primary way third parties enforce social norms or avert inequality (Fehr & Fischbacher, 2004). However, punishment of the violator is not the sole way to ameliorate an unfair distribution-one could also compensate a recipient who is treated unfairly (Schroeder, Steel, Woodell, & Bembenek, 2003). Compensation functions as a different method of tackling inequality, with varying possible underlying motivations. Some people regard recompensing victims for the injury brought to them as an effort to make the victim become "whole" again (Schroeder et al., 2003). Although both compensation for a victim and punishment of a norm violator by a third party are likely to be viewed as altruistic acts (Leliveld et al., 2012), in previous studies of third-party punishment and compensation it has been revealed that highly empathic people tend to proffer compensation to the victim (recipient), whereas people low in empathy are well-disposed toward punishing the perpetrator (dictator) instead (Hu et al., 2015; Leliveld et al., 2012). Moreover, intergroup relationships might be an important factor affecting third-party observers' preference for compensation versus punishment.

People show more automatic empathy toward in-group members over out-group members (Kaseweter, Drwecki, & Prkachin, 2012), and display more positive attitudes and helping behavior toward people from their racial in-group than toward others from a racial out-group (Greenwald, Smith, Sriram, Bar-Anan, & Nosek, 2009). According to some researchers, the violator's group affiliation has a considerable impact on the unaffected third party, that is, the third party punishes out-group perpetrators much more harshly and consistently than they do in-group perpetrators (Sommers & Ellsworth, 2000). Further, out-group violators who transgress against in-group victims have been found to receive harsher punishment than in-group perpetrators who have committed the same or a similar norm violation against in-group victims (Baumgartner, Götte, Gügler, & Fehr, 2012). Therefore, we expected that intergroup relationships would have a significant impact on third-party punishment and compensation.

Decisions regarding in-group membership result from social categorization and stereotyping (Jost & Hamilton, 2005), and are dependent on social projection (the tendency to expect similarity between oneself and others; DiDonato, Ullrich, & Krueger, 2011), shared group norms, and correspondence with these values (Amiot, Sansfaçon, Louis, & Yelle, 2012). People associate more positive stimuli (e.g., money; Mummendey & Otten, 1998) and, asymmetrically, less negative stimuli (e.g., noise) with members of their in-groups than with members of out-groups (Ben-Ner, McCall, Stephane, & Wang, 2009). …

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