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Men, More than Women, Harm Others to Move Forward

S u m m a r y :
Men hurt others to advance their interests, reads the title of a new study published in the journal Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.

The new research reveals gender differences in cooperation and punishment behaviour. Conducted by an investigator from Chapman University, Terence Burnham, it shows that men are more willing than women to penalise others to serve their interests. Not only do men resort to punitive discipline, but they are also ready to punish the innocent, and they obtain higher ranks—this punishment, then, adversely affects the outcome for both males and females.

It is to be noted that this applies to men who are seeking worldly gains; they want to get ahead of others by hook or by crook, and are, thus, willing to trample upon others, destroying their team just to move up the ladder.

Why do these men punish more than women? According to the study author, men perceive this punishment as equivalent to physical punishment, and they tend to favour it because they generally, otherwise, incline towards physical retribution for unfair behaviour. Additionally, men show less team-spirit and less generosity than women. The study researcher also argues that cooperative behaviour is influenced by status, and women view status and rank differently from men. This would explain why men would punish twice more than women when given incentives to achieve higher ranks.

“Outside the laboratory, high-powered punishment and rank-based reward may be the norm,” says Burnham. “This study connects academic research to current headlines including the #metoo movement.”

Situations with the ‘opportunity’ to punish others, specially under mixed-gender settings, happen everyday in the world of work. What does this punishment look like? It can vary from financial losses (like termination of employment) or reputational harm.

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