Social Status and Peer-Punishment: Findings from Two Road Traffic Field Experiments

Jann, Ben; Coutts, Elisabeth (2017). Social Status and Peer-Punishment: Findings from Two Road Traffic Field Experiments. In: Jann, Ben; Przepiorka, Wojtek (eds.) Social Dilemmas, Institutions, and the Evolution of Cooperation (pp. 259-277). Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg

13-Social Status and Peer-Punishment Findings from Two Road Traffic Field Experiments.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (378kB) | Preview

In a seminal experiment, Doob and Gross (1968) examined the influence of social status on peer-punishment of norm violations in traffic. They observed an inverse relationship between the economic status indicated by a car that was blocking an intersection and the punishment meted out to the driver of that car, with “punishment” taking the form of a honk of the car horn. In a more recent experiment, Diekmann et al. (1996) noted the status and reactions of the cars blocked by a single midstatus car. Blocked drivers at the wheel of a higher-status car were found to punish more aggressively than drivers of a lower-status car. Our study employs a combined design to separate the effects of driver and blocker status. In two field experiments, we varied the status of the norm-violating car and recorded the status of the blocked driver’s (i.e., the experimental subject’s) car. Our results provide evidence that social distance facilitates peer-punishment. Punishment was expressed less readily when the blocked and blocking cars indicated a similar social status.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Sociology

UniBE Contributor:

Jann, Ben


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




De Gruyter Oldenbourg




Ben Jann

Date Deposited:

14 May 2018 16:31

Last Modified:

01 Nov 2019 09:57




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback