Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Altruistic Punishment and Strong Reciprocity

  • Tünde PaálEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3768-1



A willingness to impose sanctions on norm violators at the punisher’s own cost.


The theory of strong reciprocity is regarded today as one of the most influential attempts at explaining the evolution of human cooperation (Bowles and Gintis 2011; Fehr and Fischbacher 2004, 2005; Fehr et al. 2002; Gintis 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 no future benefits for the punishing individual or the individual’s genes are possible: in one-shot scenarios among strangers under conditions of strict anonymity (Bowles and Gintis 2011; Fehr and Fischbacher 2005; Gintis et al. 2003).

Experimental Evidence

In the...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent ResearcherPécsHungary

Section editors and affiliations

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