Altruistic punishment in humans

  title={Altruistic punishment in humans},
  author={Ernst Fehr and Simon G{\"a}chter},
Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike other creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small or absent. These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism. Here we show… 

The evolution of altruistic punishment

It is shown that an important asymmetry between altruistic cooperation and altruistic punishment allows altruistic punished to evolve in populations engaged in one-time, anonymous interactions, and this process allows both altruism punishment and altruism cooperation to be maintained even when groups are large.

Altruism may arise from individual selection.

Decoupling cooperation and punishment in humans shows that punishment is not an altruistic trait

If a minority of individuals is made immune to punishment, they learn to stop cooperating on average despite being surrounded by high levels of cooperation, contradicting the idea of conditional cooperation and showing that cooperation and punishment do not form one, altruistically motivated, linked trait.

Cooperation and Punishment, Especially in Humans

A direct (neighbor‐modulated) fitness approach is used to analyze when punishment is favored and reveals that relatedness between interacting individuals is not crucial to explaining cooperation through punishment, and increasing relatedness directly disfavors punishing behavior.

Human altruism: economic, neural, and evolutionary perspectives

Cruel to be kind: The role of the evolution of altruistic punishment in sustaining human cooperation in public goods games

It is concluded that altruistic punishment may form an integral part of that trajectory of human cooperation and group-selection, multi-level selection, and gene and culture co-evolution.

Explaining human altruism

It is defended the claim that human altruistic dispositions evolved through cultural group selection and gene-culture coevolution and offered empirical evidence in support and it is argued that actual altruistic behavior often goes beyond the kind of behavior humans have evolved to display.

The Biological and Evolutionary Logic of Human Cooperation

This paper argues that group selection is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain human cooperation, and suggests an alternative solution that is simpler, makes fewer assumptions, and is more parsimonious with the empirical data.

Altruistic Punishment and the Origin of Cooperation

  • J. Fowler
  • Economics
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2005
A simple evolutionary model is presented in which altruistic punishers can enter and will always come to dominate a population of contributors, defectors, and nonparticipants, suggesting that the cycle of strategies in voluntary public goods games does not persist in the presence of punishment strategies.

The Evolution of Altruistic Punishment

Altruistic punishment has been noted as a force in sustaining cooperation. The evolution of altruistic punishment, however, is hard to explain by natural selection. In this paper, we review the



Evolution of indirect reciprocity by image scoring

It is proposed that the emergence of indirect reciprocity was a decisive step for the evolution of human societies and the probability of knowing the ‘image’ of the recipient must exceed the cost-to-benefit ratio of the altruistic act.

The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism

  • R. Trivers
  • Psychology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
  • 1971
A model is presented to account for the natural selection of what is termed reciprocally altruistic behavior. The model shows how selection can operate against the cheater (non-reciprocator) in the

Why people punish defectors. Weak conformist transmission can stabilize costly enforcement of norms in cooperative dilemmas.

In this paper, we present a cultural evolutionary model in which norms for cooperation and punishment are acquired via two cognitive mechanisms: (1) payoff-biased transmission-a tendency to copy the

Punishment in animal societies

Punishing strategies are used to establish and maintain dominance relationships, to discourage parasites and cheats, to discipline offspring or prospective sexual partners and to maintain cooperative behaviour.

Altruism as a Handicap: The Limitations of Kin Selection and Reciprocity

Trivers (1971) suggested an additional model "reciprocal altruism" (RA) to interpret altruistic adaptations among non-relatives, but data from several field studies have indicated that in many cases the act of the non-related altruist was not reciprocated.

The Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity

Richard Alexander has argued that moral systems derive from indirect reciprocity. We analyse a simple case of a model of indirect reciprocity based on image scoring. Discriminators provide help to

Evolution of cooperation between individuals

The presence of phenotypic defectors paradoxically allows persistent discriminating cooperation under a much wider range of conditions than found by Nowak and Sigmund because there is selection against both defection and unconditional altruism.

Evolution of cooperation through indirect reciprocity

This puzzle investigates indirect reciprocity in simulations based on an island model and finds that the strategy of aiming for ‘good standing’ has superior properties, which can be an evolutionarily stable strategy and, even if not, it usually beats image scoring.

Reward and punishment

The analysis suggests that reputation is essential for fostering social behavior among selfish agents, and that it is considerably more effective with punishment than with reward.

The biology of moral systems

The author argues that the ultimate interests of humans are reproductive, and that the concept of morality has arisen within groups because of its contribution to unity in the context, ultimately, of success in intergroup competition.