Of primary importance to people is that punishment feel fair, even if a punishment is, objectively speaking, irrational (e.g., kidnapper-murderer-rapist Ariel Castro was punished with 1,000 years’ imprisonment on top of a life sentence). Building on the assertion that punishment is intimately connected with feelings of justice, the chapter outlines that people evolved a moral punishment instinct because it was adaptive in promoting cooperation. Initial findings suggest that people have an inborn tendency to punish. Punishment occurs in all known cultures; punishment occurs also among other social animals; punishment is associated with activation of old, emotional regions of the brain; and young children, including eight-month-old babies, punish. The chapter will also define punishment, and clarify a few crucial terms such as costly punishment, revenge, and aggression.
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