Individual Differences in Third‐Party Interventions: How Justice Sensitivity Shapes Altruistic Punishment

  • Sebastian Lotz
  • Anna Baumert
  • Thomas Schlösser
  • Franz Gresser
  • Detlef Fetchenhauer


Altruistic punishment refers to the phenomenon that humans invest their own resources to redress norm violations without self‐interest involved. We address the question of who will intervene in situations that allow for altruistic punishment. We suggest that individual differences in a genuine concern for justice, as reflected by the personality trait of justice sensitivity, determine the experience of moral emotions in the face of injustice, which in turn trigger altruistic punishment. Results of two studies support the proposed mediation effect for other‐regarding justice sensitivity, even though an opportunity for compensation of the victim (Study 2) was offered as an alternative to punishment (Study 1). Furthermore, the mediation effect was observed when moral outrage was measured by means of quantified open statements (Study 1) and self‐report scales using discrete emotions (Study 2). The findings help to explain the psychological mechanisms underlying engagement in costly social sanctioning of norm violations.

Keywords: justice, justice sensitivity, moral emotions, altruistic punishment, third‐party interventions

How to Cite:

Lotz, S. & Baumert, A. & Schlösser, T. & Gresser, F. & Fetchenhauer, D., (2011) “Individual Differences in Third‐Party Interventions: How Justice Sensitivity Shapes Altruistic Punishment”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 4(4), 297-313. doi:

Download PDF
View PDF



Published on
16 Oct 2011
Peer Reviewed