ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (7): 758-772.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00758

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


陈思静1, 邢懿琳1, 翁异静1, 黎常2()   

  1. 1浙江科技学院经济与管理学院, 杭州 310023
    2浙江工商大学工商管理学院, 杭州 310018
  • 收稿日期:2020-06-08 出版日期:2021-07-25 发布日期:2021-05-24
  • 通讯作者: 黎常
  • 基金资助:

Spillover effects of third-party punishment on cooperation: A norm-based explanation

CHEN Sijing1, XING Yilin1, WENG Yijing1, LI Chang2()   

  1. 1School of Economics and Management, Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China
    2School of Business Administration, Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou 310018, China
  • Received:2020-06-08 Online:2021-07-25 Published:2021-05-24
  • Contact: LI Chang


第三方惩罚对合作的维系可能来自经济功能或规范提示功能。先前研究没有区分这两种功能, 因而未能回答:当惩罚不足以影响违规收益时, 是否还能促进合作?实验1 (N = 252)发现即使第三方惩罚无法降低违规收益, 依然能抑制自利行为。实验2 (N = 179)发现受过惩罚的违规者在其后的独裁者博弈表现出了更高的合作水平。2(是否旁观惩罚)×2(旁观前后)设计的实验3 (N = 179)显示, 旁观惩罚后被试的合作水平显著高于旁观前, 也高于未旁观惩罚的被试。后两个实验中, 社会规范在惩罚与合作之间均起中介作用。这进一步证实惩罚对合作的促进在很大程度上是通过规范激活来实现的, 并存在两种溢出效应:惩罚抑制了曾经的违规者(纵向溢出效应)和旁观者(横向溢出效应)在新博弈情境下的自私行为。这两种溢出效应的发现补充了文献中占主导地位的经济学解释, 并为理解人类社会长时间、大规模的合作提供了新视角。

关键词: 第三方惩罚, 社会规范, 合作, 聚焦理论, 溢出效应


A large body of experimental evidence demonstrates that in presence of third-party punishers, cooperators can gain higher payoffs than defectors. As a result, third-party punishment (TPP) that changes the payoff structure of defectors is believed to be a key in promoting cooperation. However, this rationale is contrary to an important finding in behavioral economics: individuals are not necessarily rational decision makers and do not have purely self-regarding preferences. This contradiction raises an interesting question: can this finding also be applied to defectors? We aim to explore this question through three experiments.
In Experiment 1, 240 undergraduates participated in a Public Goods Game and were divided randomly into three conditions: control condition (CC), low defection cost condition (LC), and high defection cost condition (HC). In each round of the game, participants in CC decided whether to contribute 10 tokens from the initial endowment to the public account. All the tokens contributed to the public account were doubled and evenly allocated to all group members. Participants who retained 10 tokens needed to pay a tax of 1 token. The procedures in LC and HC were identical to that in CC. An exception is that in LC and HC, independent punishers could discipline defectors by paying 5 tokens to reduce the payoff of defectors by 1 token in LC and 10 tokens in HC. In Experiment 2, 179 participants who defected in Stage 1 were selected as sample in Stage 2 and were divided randomly into two conditions: CC (89 participants) and punishment condition (PC, 90 participants). Participants in PC were told they had been punished in Stage 1, whereas those in CC received no feedback. All participants’ levels of norm activation and cooperation in different games were then measured. Experiment 2 was replicated in Experiment 3, where the participants were not game players but spectators, and their levels of norm activation and cooperation were measured before and after the game. The participants in defection condition observed a defection and the consequent punishment, whereas those in norm condition observed a fair offer and no punishment.
In Experiment 1, the defection cost in LC was lower than that in CC, so participants in LC had a stronger incentive to defect. However, the results revealed a significantly higher cooperation level in LC. A plausible explanation is that the defection cost in form of punishment served as a norm reminder, but cost in form of tax lacked this function, implying that even defectors are not necessarily benefit maximizers. The results of Experiment 2 confirmed this explanation: compared with unpunished defectors, the punished ones manifested a higher level of norm activation. The bootstrap analysis showed that the norm activation completely mediated TPP and cooperation. Experiment 2 also found a spillover effect of TPP: the punished defectors still demonstrated a high cooperation in a new different game where the sanction was absent. Finally, Experiment 3 found another spillover effect of TPP: bystanders who did not experience the punishment in person but witnessed it showed a significantly higher cooperation in subsequent interactions.
In conclusion, oftentimes, people defect simply because they are unaware of the existence of a certain norm, and activating people’s norms through TPP can significantly reduce their selfish behaviors. In addition to being an economic means to reduce defectors’ payoff, TPP serves as a norm reminder. The two spillover effects found in this study suggest that TPP as a means of norm activation may be more efficient than as an economic means because of its cost-effectiveness. These findings shed new light on the understanding of extensive cooperation among genetically unrelated individuals.

Key words: third-party punishment, social norm, cooperation, focus theory, spillover effect