Revenge without responsibility? Judgments about collective punishment in baseball
Fiery Cushman, A.J. Durwin & Chaz Lively
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming
Abstract: Many cultures practice collective punishment; that is, they will punish one person for another's transgression, based solely on shared group membership. This practice is difficult to reconcile with the theories of moral responsibility that dominate in contemporary Western psychology, philosophy and law. Yet, we demonstrate a context in which many American participants do endorse collective punishment: retaliatory “beaning” in baseball. Notably, individuals who endorse this form of collective punishment tend not to hold the target of retaliation to be morally responsible. In other words, the psychological mechanisms underlying such “vicarious” forms of collective punishment appear to be distinct from the evaluation of moral responsibility. Consequently, the observation of collective punishment in non-Western cultures may not indicate the operation of fundamentally different conceptions of moral responsibility.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)