Research press release


Nature Communications

Social science: Judge not, lest ye be judged



この問題に取り組むためにElizabeth Phelpsらは、実験参加者が、他の参加者から不公平な扱いをされたと感じたときに、罰を与えるか、もしくは補償を求めるかという、幅のある選択肢を選べる新しい経済ゲームを開発した。その結果、不公平な状況に対応する際に別の選択肢(状況を受け入れたり、補償を求めたりすることなど)がある場合、不公平に扱われた参加者は、不公平な行為者に罰を与えることよりも、状況の受容あるいは補償の要求を選ぶことが分かった。


People prefer not to punish unfair acts if presented with alternative options, unless the unfair acts are directed at another person, reports research published in Nature Communications this week. These findings challenge our current understanding of human social behaviour.

In society, fairness acts as a standard for behaviour that promotes social efficiency and cooperation. Previously, studies of fairness have been carried out by presenting participants with two options when placed in unfair situations: engage in punishing behaviour, or do nothing at all. However, this experimental setup may not reflect everyday life situations.

To address this, Elizabeth Phelps and colleagues developed a novel economic game that allowed participants to choose from a range of punishing and compensatory options when they felt that they had been treated unfairly by other participants. The authors found that when alternative options for dealing with unfair situations were available (such as acceptance of the situation or asking for compensation), participants who were treated unfairly opted for acceptance or compensation rather than punishing the unfair participant.

However, if participants were making decisions on behalf of someone else who had been treated unfairly, they would often opt for the harshest economic punishment possible. The authors hope that these findings will inform how the legal system approaches the punishment of transgressors, although further research is needed to better understand these behaviours before any intervention is possible.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms6306

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