In a recent study from Yale, lead authors of the study, Ph.D student Jillian J. Jordan and psychology professor David Rand, developed a mathematical model to explore their hypothesis that
it can be advantageous for individuals to punish selfishness in order to signal that they are not selfish themselves.
In other words, many of us can certainly find it liberating to vent among a group of co-workers about our grievances of dealing with a difficult but did you know doing so could demonstrate a value of trust with our colleagues even if we don’t realize it?
People that take a stand by calling out bad co-workers or punish and shame organizations and individuals for wrongdoing through boycotting or whistleblowing are seen as much more trustworthy.
In fact during the experiment, an individual was solicited into contributing money in order to punish someone who had done something wrong. At the same time another individual observing the interaction would then decide whether they would offer money to that first person, depending on that persons actions towards the wrongdoer.
The study determined that observers were more likely to offer money to the people who had decided to penalize wrongdoers and found punishers really were more trustworthy, and returned more money. Although it can certainly be seen as self-sacrificing to shame wrongdoers that may not always be the case. As the researchers of the study exampled,
Although Third-Party Punishment (TPP) may often appear ‘altruistic’, we show how punishing can be self-interested in the long run because of reputational benefits. Sometimes punishing wrongdoers is the best way to show you care.
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