New Insight on Social Punishment, Human Cooperation

AAAS – Research Results

In an experiment with volunteers at the University of Erfurt in Erfurt, Germany, two thirds of the study participants initially chose the group in which members could not punish others, many abandoned this non-punishing group after seeing the greater financial rewards that come with cooperation that is maintained when individuals choose to punish freeloaders.

This new evidence for a competitive advantage for groups in which individuals can punish freeloaders may bring scientists closer to a general theory of human cooperation, the authors say.

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