ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (3): 281-299.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00281

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


杨莎莎1, 陈思静2()   

  1. 1上海大学经济学院, 上海 200444
    2浙江科技学院经济与管理学院, 杭州 310023
  • 收稿日期:2021-08-03 出版日期:2022-03-25 发布日期:2022-01-25
  • 通讯作者: 陈思静
  • 基金资助:

Normative misperception in third-party punishment: An explanation from the perspective of belief in a just world

YANG Shasha1, CHEN Sijing2()   

  1. 1School of Economics, Shanghai University, Shanghai, 200444, China
    2School of Economics and Management, Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China
  • Received:2021-08-03 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: CHEN Sijing


惩罚规范在一定程度上会影响个体的惩罚行为, 但个体对惩罚规范的感知与实际规范之间可能存在差异, 这被称为规范错觉。为了更好地从这一角度理解第三方惩罚, 我们需要回答的是:第三方惩罚中是否存在规范错觉?如果存在, 其方向如何?会对个体自身的惩罚行为产生何种影响?实验1 (N = 449)和实验2 (N = 134)的结果表明, 在违规情境中, 人们往往低估了他人的惩罚水平, 这导致自身较低的惩罚行为。实验3 (N = 164)和实验4 (N = 284)进一步发现, 较弱的公正世界信念导致人们对他人惩罚水平的低估, 从而影响了自身的惩罚行为, 而社会距离调节了公正世界信念对规范错觉的影响。上述结果表明, 规范错觉会受到内部(公正世界信念)和外部(社会距离)两个参照点的影响, 同时也在一定程度上说明第三方惩罚是一种注重维护规范的积极行为、而非注重个人收益的策略行为。

关键词: 第三方惩罚, 规范错觉, 公正世界信念, 社会距离


Punishment decisions might be guided by the norm of punishment, that is, people will implement their own punishment according to perceived prevalence of punishment in a similar social midst. However, there may be differences between an individual’s perception of norms and actual norms, which is called normative misperception. This article uses four experiments to explore the existence, the direction, and the cause of the normative misperception in third-party punishment, as well as its influence on people’s own punitive behaviors.
In Experiment 1, 449 participants were randomized in a four group factorial design (punishing before estimating, estimating before punishing, punishing only, and estimating only). Experiment 1 consisted of 6 rounds of dictator game, in which participants made punishment decisions for 6 offers and/or estimated the average punishment level of other participants in each offer. Experiment 2 aimed to establish the causal relationship between the normative misperception and the punishment by directly manipulating the normative misperception. Specifically, 134 participants were randomly divided into the overestimation group and underestimation group. After receiving the feedback, participants made punishment decision for an unfair offer and estimated the level of punishment of others in this offer. The purpose of Experiment 3 was to test the model of belief in a just world (BJW)-normative misperception-punishment, as well as the moderating effect of perceived social distance (PSD), with a within-participants design involving 164 participants. The procedure was similar to that of Experiment 1, except that we measured participants’ BJW and PSD before and after the game, respectively. In Experiment 4, we manipulated participants’ BJW through reading materials to test the causal relationship between BJW and the normative misperception.
The results of Experiment 1 showed that there is an underestimated normative misperception in third-party punishment, which leads to a lower level of punishment. Experiment 2 proved that there exists a causal relationship between the normative misperception and punishment by directly manipulating the independent variables. Experiment 3 demonstrated that BJW might be an underlying cause of the normative misperception, while PSD moderates the effect of BJW on the normative misperception. Finally, Experiment 4 showed the causal relationship between BJW and the normative misperception, providing additional evidence to the results of Experiment 3.
To sum up, we have found evidence of normative misperception in third-party punishment through 4 experiments. This underestimated misperception might be affected by dual reference points: BJW (internal) and PSD (external). It also shows to a certain extent that third-party punishment is a norm-maintaining behavior rather than a gain-based strategic behavior.

Key words: third-party punishment, normative misperception, belief in a just world, perceived social distance