Revenge and the rule of law
In countries like the USA, Switzerland and the UK, freeloaders accepted their punishment and became much more co-operative. But in countries based on more authoritarian and parochial social institutions such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Russia, the freeloaders took revenge — retaliating against those who had punished them.That's from a University of Nottingham press release. The paper is Antisocial Punishment Across Societies by Benedikt Herrmann, Christian Thöni, and Simon Gächter.
Co-operation for the common good plummeted as a result.
In societies where the modern ethic of co-operation with unrelated strangers is less familiar and the rule of law is perceived to be weak, revenge is more common and co-operation suffers, the study found.
“Our results correlate with other survey data in particular measures of social norms of civic co-operation and rule of law in these same societies. The findings suggest that in societies where public co-operation is ingrained and people trust their law enforcement institutions, revenge is generally shunned. But in societies where the modern ethic of co-operation with unrelated strangers is less familiar and the rule of law is weak, revenge is more common."
Sounds rather like a harsh excessively indictment, and western-centric.
I operate from the premise that all people are the same, and it is cultures that are different. That is, the primary reason for differences in behavior is the culture in which one is embedded. But cultures are not just arbitrarily different. They evolve and are locally adapted. I believe they locally adapt based on surrounding conditions and move in the direction of better adaption but that this process is slow and imperfect.
A question is, was it ever a good cultural adaptation to take revenge for being punished for noncooperative behavior?