Behavioral and Brain Sciences

The social costs of punishment

Pieter van den Berga1, Lucas Mollemana1 and Franz J. Weissinga1

a1 Theoretical Biology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands.


Lab experiments on punishment are of limited relevance for understanding cooperative behavior in the real world. In real interactions, punishment is not cheap, but the costs of punishment are of a different nature than in experiments. They do not correspond to direct payments or payoff deductions, but they arise from the repercussions punishment has on social networks and future interactions.