Effects of Group Identity and Contribution Variance on Altruistic Punishment of Free-Riding
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This research examines how the act of administrating altruistic punishment is impacted by group identity and variability in contributions to a public good settings. The decision to punish low contributors involves a cost to the punisher and carries no individual benefit for the action; as such it is an altruistic act. Altruistic punishment is unique because there is not materialistic, rational reasons to employ it, yet we know it is used. Consequently, such punishment is used to uphold norms of exacting revenge. I proposed a six condition experimental study in which I manipulated three factors of group identity (in-group, out-group, and no group identity) and two types of variability in contributions (high and low). I posited that there would be differences in the frequency in decisions to administer altruistic punishment to a non-contributor depending on the combinations of group identity and variance in contributions. Results indicated that these factors were not significant in determining the frequency of utilizing altruistic punishment. The administration of altruistic punishment was significantly related to the level of contribution to the public good. Individuals who contributed more to the public good also administered more altruistic punishment. Sex and variability in contribution were both found to be significant in influencing contributions. Men contributed more and participants in the low variability condition contributed more respectfully. The relationship between sex and altruistic punishment is completely mediated by amount of contributions. While there is a clear and significant relationship between contribution variance and contributions, as well as between contributions and punishment, contributions do not mediate the relationship between contribution variance and punishment because the relationship between contribution and punishment is not significant.
Reese Jr, Bruce Edward (2018). Effects of Group Identity and Contribution Variance on Altruistic Punishment of Free-Riding. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from