Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Why do People Punish the Rule Breakers?: The Sustainability of Social Norms

Singh, Indervir (2010): Why do People Punish the Rule Breakers?: The Sustainability of Social Norms.

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Abstract

This paper attempts to provide reasons for sustainability of social norms by considering internalization as the basic motivation behind the punishment behavior. A society requires people to implant the social norms in others, and punishing the rule breaker provides a person utility by letting him feel good through fulfilling his responsibility. The responsibility increases with closeness of relationship, therefore relatives and friends tend to punish the rule breaker harder. The breaking of a norm also acts as a 'bad name' for rule breaker's relatives and friends, which, further, prompts them to punish him. Since, punishing the rule breaker also benefits non-punishers, some people may start selling the punishment activity, if the benefited people, due to their internalization of the norm, pay punishers in the form of money, support etc.

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