Intergroup bias influences third-party punishment and compensation: In-group relationships attenuate altruistic punishment

Yingjie Liu1, Xiaohua Bian2, Yu Hu3, Ya-Ting Chen4, Xuzhou Li5, Baxter Di Fabrizio6
1School of Psychology, North China University of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China
2School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, and Arts and Humanities Education Center, East China Normal University and North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, People’s Republic of China
3Institute of Psychology and Behavior, Wenzhou University, People’s Republic of China
4School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, People’s Republic of China
5The Key Laboratory of Brain Functional Genomics, MOE, and STCSM, School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, People’s Republic of China
6Department of Psychiatry, and Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology Division, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, United States
Cite this article:  Liu, Y., Bian, X., Hu, Y., Chen, Y.-T., Li, X., & Di Fabrizio, B. (2018). Intergroup bias influences third-party punishment and compensation: In-group relationships attenuate altruistic punishment. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 46(8), 1397-1408.

Volume 46 Issue 8 | e7193 | Published: August 2018 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.7193

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Intergroup relationships can impact on a third party’s willingness to punish a violator, but few researchers have explored how intergroup relationships affect third-party compensation tendencies. We recruited 163 participants to observe a dictator game, and then choose either to punish the dictator or compensate the recipient, each of whom could be from the participant’s in-group or out-group. Third parties often chose not to punish in-group dictators and to compensate both in-group victims and out-group victims. When out-group members transgressed against the in-group, participants punished these out-group members just as often as they compensated the in-group recipients, although they punished out-group dictators more harshly than others overall. However, when both proposer and recipient came from the out-group, participants often did not intervene. We also found that third-party punishment and compensation were related to individual differences in participants’ trait empathy and Machiavellianism. Our findings shed light on the modulating effect of intergroup relationships on third-party altruistic decisions.

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