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Humans Might Not Be Altruistic ‘Avengers’ After All, Study Finds

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, adds a new, contradictory perspective to the established wisdom that humans have evolved to punish people who mistreat strangers, even when intervening could lead to social costs. In their paper “The Unresponsive Avenger: More Evidence That Disinterested Third Parties Do Not Punish Altruistically,” a team of researchers tested this scientifically accepted theory using a novel set of experiments. Their findings suggest that, on average, people aren’t inclined to selflessly punish people who abuse strangers, except for when they are faced with a very specific set of conditions in a lab.

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