Patience and punishment

The use of altruistic and antisocial punishment appears to be related to temporal discounting. In a study conducted in Spain, present-oriented participants tended to mete out antisocial punishment, while future-oriented participants were inclined to impose altruistic punishment. This fits well with the finding by Herrmann et al. (2008), in which they showed a negative correlation between the expression of antisocial punishment and GDP per capita. Discounting the future and focusing on present competition might bring high payoffs in unpredictable environments with scarce resources. In contrast, enforcing cooperation with an expectation of future benefits is likely to be a successful strategy in more stable and wealthier places.