Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Altruistic Punishment

  • Tünde PaálEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1626-1



A willingness to impose sanctions on norm violators at the punisher’s own cost, in the absence of (immediate) material return


Altruistic punishment is one of the central mechanisms and manifestations of strong reciprocity, the theory of which is regarded today as one of the most influential attempts at explaining the evolution of human cooperation (Bowles and Gintis 2011; Fehr and Fischbacher 2003, 2004; Fehr et al. 2002; Fehr and Gächter 2002; Fehr and Gintis 2007; Fehr and Henrich 2002; Fehr and Rockenbach 2004; Fowler 2005; Gintis et al. 2003, 2008; McElreath et al. 2003). It denotes a predisposition to cooperate with others and a willingness to punish at personal cost those who violate cooperative norms. This altruistic form of punishment has been well documented both in real life and in laboratory experiments. It is altruistic in the sense that it occurs even in situations where...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherPécsHungary

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin Beaver
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA