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The Influence of Real World Resource Asymmetries on Punishment in Economic Games
Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology
  • Daniel Tumminelli O'Brien, Harvard University
  • Andrew C. Gallup, Bard College
  • Omar Tonsi Eldakar, Oberlin College
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Real World Resources,
  • Behavioral Economics,
  • Social Punishment,
  • Cost Analysis,
  • Financial Resources,
  • Prosociality,
  • Cooperation
Punishment is crucial to the maintenance of cooperative systems, but it requires investment on the part of individuals. Some evolutionary theorists argue that it is in the best interests of cooperators to punish norm violations, while others argue that more selfish individuals are better equipped to absorb the costs. We argue more generally that those who derive the greatest benefit from group living will have both the resources and incentive to engage in costly punishment, independent of their inclination towards cooperation. To test this hypothesis, we administered an experimental economics “game” that included measures of cooperation and costly punishment, and a survey assessing individual access to social and financial resources. Our hypothesis was validated by three main findings: cooperators and defectors punished with equal frequency and intensity; individuals with greater access to social resources were more likely to punish non-cooperators; and punishers with greater access to financial resources were more likely to invest the maximum amount in punishment.
Citation Information
Daniel Tumminelli O'Brien, Andrew C. Gallup and Omar Tonsi Eldakar. "The Influence of Real World Resource Asymmetries on Punishment in Economic Games" Evolutionary and Cultural Psychology Vol. 7 Iss. 1 (2013) p. 7 - 11 ISSN: 1933-5377
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