New York: Given a choice, people actually prefer compensation to punishment when they think they have been wronged, a study said.
The researchers, however, found that when deciding to restore justice on behalf of another person, people tend to apply the harshest form of punishment for the wrongdoer.
"In our legal system, individuals are presented with the option to punish the transgressor or not, but such a narrow choice set may fail to capture alternative preferences for restoring justice," said Oriel FeldmanHall, the study's lead author and a post-doctoral fellow at New York University (NYU).
"In this study, we show that victims actually prefer other forms of justice restoration, such as compensation to the victim, rather than punishment of the transgressor," FeldmanHall stressed.
"These results show that third parties make decisions on justice that are at odds with the wishes of victims," said study co-author Jay Van Bavel, professor at NYU.
The study is based on a series of experiments that employed a variation of "the Ultimatum Game", a common method used in psychology and economic research that gauges how people respond to unfair monetary offers.
People respond differently depending on whether they have been directly affected by a fairness violation, or are observing another person, the findings appearing in the journal Nature Communications, showed.