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PLoS One. 2019 Jan 10;14(1):e0210676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210676. eCollection 2019.

Compensate a little, but punish a lot: Asymmetric routes to restoring justice.

Author information

1
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, United States of America.

Abstract

Most people have a desire to live in a just world, a place where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. And yet, injustices do occur: good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Across four experiments, we show that people respond quite differently to correct these two types of injustices. When bad things happen to good people, individuals are eager to compensate a good person's losses, but only do so to a small degree. In contrast, when a good thing happens to a bad person, because the only perceived appropriate act of punishment is to fully strip the bad actor of all his or her illegitimate gains, few people choose to punish in this costly way. However, when they do, they do so to very large degrees. Moreover, we demonstrate that differential psychological mechanisms drive this asymmetry.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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