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Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations

2. Altruistic Punishment

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In this lecture, we think about altruistic punishment in the context of WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations, focusing in particular on: (i) Fehr and Gächter’s 2002 study, which investigated altruistic punishment using a public goods game; (ii) the results from the public goods game, which showed that a significant number of participants were willing to punish others at a cost to themselves, in order to reduce ‘free riding’; (iii) Hermann and colleagues’ research using public goods games across populations from a range of industrialised societies; (iv) the presence of a tendency to enact antisocial punishment (punishing someone for being overly cooperative) in around half of these populations, which isn’t present in WEIRD populations; (v) the nature of the findings from Hermann’s non-WEIRD population study, indicating that Fehr and Gächter’s original study findings cannot be generalised to other populations.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores research with WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations. In the first lecture, we think about what a WEIRD population is. In the second lecture, we think about altruistic punishment as a forensic psychology example of research which differs in results across different populations. Next, we think about moral reasoning as a second example of a concept which WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations differ in their presentation of. In the fourth and final lecture, we think of some key reasons as to why these differences occur.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations - Altruistic Punishment [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations – Altruistic Punishment." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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