Sunday, April 08, 2012

I bean you, he beans him, we'll call it baseball

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)


Hasdrubal said...

I thought collective punishment was an incentive to self police within the affected group. In other words, the guy that gets beaned in retaliation in a baseball game is going to have a nice little heart to heart with his pitcher, and since nobody knows WHO will take the retaliation, everybody's going to give their pitcher a piece of their mind when he beans someone on the other team. (Unless, of course, the guy deserved it.)

Doc Merlin said...

Punishment has nothing to do with moral responsibility and a lot to do with discouraging occurrence. When viewed in that light, collective punishment in baseball makes more sense.

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