Can being kind to others set you up as a target?
Being overly generous can get you punished as a nonconformist.
From an early age, we are taught that cooperation, generosity, and altruism are generally things we should strive for. But altruistic acts aren’t always lauded, and researchers have found that generous individuals are sometimes punished for their behavior. Studies suggest that people often react negatively to large contributions, are suspicious of those who offer help, and want to expel particularly charitable individuals from cooperative endeavors. These seemingly counterintuitive behaviors are called “antisocial punishment” and are more common than you might think. But why would people want to punish anyone who is particularly charitable?
The answer to that question would explain a puzzling human behavior, and it could have important ramifications for public policy. Tackling many of the major problems we currently face—from climate change to political stalemates—requires cooperation and collaboration.