Posted by & filed under Aggression, Group Processes, Research Methods, Social Cognition, Social Perception, Social Psychology.

Description: What comes to mind when you think of punishment? Violent criminals? Disobedient children? Now how about revenge? Is revenge essentially defined as punishment for another’s act that harmed you or someone you care about? Or are there situations that may not involve blatant or intentional wrongdoing that may still warrant or lead to a desire to mete out punishment? If you cannot think about examples to use to weight out the comparison no problem, start by reading the first four paragraphs of  the article linked below and then answer the question of whether revenge/deterrence covers most or all of punishment in day-to-day social situations.

Source: The urge to punish is not only about revenge – unfairness can unleash it, too, Paul Deutchman and Katherine McAuliffe, The Conversation.

Date: September 30, 2020

Photo Credit:  Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Article Link:

The design of the research study discussed in the linked article is described in an interesting way using pizza. It is easy to imagine seeing versions of both scenarios in your own experience (well at least one we are allowed to gather together with friends again to share pizza). What it helps us see is that the role of punishment in the revenge/deterrence sort of situation leaves room for punishment to also be a factor in the fairness/leveling sort of situation. I suspect you could also come up with an evolutionary psychology hypothesis for why both facets of the set of punishable scenarios make sense when viewed from the context of living in small mutually dependent social groups. The difficulty that requires serious research design skill to overcome in such Social psychological studies is to how to create situations like the pizza examples without using a lot of pizza. You will have to look at their actual research article to fond out how they did that with money rather than pizza.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How are revenge, punishment, and deterrence related?
  2. How are unfairness, punishment and leveling related?
  3. Did the design the searchers use make sense to you (would you feel the way they hypothesized their participants would feel in each condition)? If not what would you change?

References (Read Further):

Deutchman, P., Bračič, M., Raihani, N., & McAuliffe, K. (2020). Punishment is strongly motivated by revenge and weakly motivated by inequity aversion. Evolution and Human Behavior. Link

Orth, U. (2004). Does perpetrator punishment satisfy victims’ feelings of revenge?. Aggressive Behavior: Official Journal of the International Society for Research on Aggression, 30(1), 62-70. Link

Bone, J. E., & Raihani, N. J. (2015). Human punishment is motivated by both a desire for revenge and a desire for equality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 36(4), 323-330. Link

Cushman, F., Durwin, A. J., & Lively, C. (2012). Revenge without responsibility? Judgments about collective punishment in baseball. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(5), 1106-1110. Link

Gollwitzer, M., Meder, M., & Schmitt, M. (2011). What gives victims satisfaction when they seek revenge?. European journal of social psychology, 41(3), 364-374. Link