Similarity increases altruistic punishment in humans

Mussweiler, T M and Ockenfels, A (2013) Similarity increases altruistic punishment in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 110 (48). pp. 19318-19323. ISSN 1091-6490

Abstract

Humans are attracted to similar others. As a consequence, social networks are homogeneous in sociodemographic, intrapersonal, and other characteristics—a principle called homophily. Despite abundant evidence showing the importance of interpersonal similarity and homophily for human relationships, their behavioral correlates and cognitive foundations are poorly understood. Here, we show that perceived similarity substantially increases altruistic punishment, a key mechanism underlying human cooperation. We induced (dis)similarity perception by manipulating basic cognitive mechanisms in an economic cooperation game that included a punishment phase. We found that similarity-focused participants were more willing to punish others’ uncooperative behavior. This influence of similarity is not explained by group identity, which has the opposite effect on altruistic punishment. Our findings demonstrate that pure similarity promotes reciprocity in ways known to encourage cooperation. At the same time, the increased willingness to punish norm violations among similarity-focused participants provides a rationale for why similar people are more likely to build stable social relationships. Finally, our findings show that altruistic punishment is differentially involved in encouraging cooperation under pure similarity vs. in-group conditions.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Organisational Behaviour
Additional Information: © 2013 National Academy of Sciences
Subjects: B > Behavioural science
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 15:14
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2018 09:31
URI: http://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/595
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