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When the strong punish: Why net costs of punishment are often negligible

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2012

Christopher R. von Rueden
Integrative Anthropological Sciences, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210. vonrueden@umail.ucsb.edu
Michael Gurven
Integrative Anthropological Sciences, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3210. vonrueden@umail.ucsb.edu


In small-scale societies, punishment of adults is infrequent and employed when the anticipated cost-to-benefit ratio is low, such as when punishment is collectively justified and administered. In addition, benefits may exceed costs when punishers have relatively greater physical and social capital and gain more from cooperation. We provide examples from the Tsimane horticulturalists of Bolivia to support our claims.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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