Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Cristina Bicchieri


Why do third parties choose to help the victims of norm violations? In Chapter 1, we address this question at the emotional level. We show a relationship between environment and motivating emotion, in which moral outrage motivates the compensation of norm violation victims, whereas empathic concern drives compensation in other situations, at both the trait (Study 1) and state (Studies 2 and 3) levels. This finding presents a novel question for evolutionary psychology. Differing emotional drivers are taken to represent distinct underlying cognitive systems. While previous evolutionary models based on social insurance through indirect reciprocity can account for domain-general empathically driven compensation, they fail to address morally outraged compensation of norm violation victims. In Chapter 2, we extend two evolutionary models of punishment, showing how those same selection pressures may also account for victim compensation. We first propose the reputation-signaling hypothesis, under which compensators signal their community status and knowledge of local norms, making observers more likely to select them as future interaction partners. We also develop the norm stabilization hypothesis, in which compensators broadcast their endorsement of the violated norm, leading conditional conformists to continue to comply, thereby stabilizing the norm within the group. In Chapter 3, we develop and test empirical predictions of both hypotheses. In Study 4, we find support for the joint prediction of both the reputation-signaling and norm stabilization hypotheses that compensation is increased when observed by others. In Study 5, we show that, consistent with the norm stabilization hypothesis, those who observe compensation of a victim of a norm violation are more likely to conform to that norm. In Study 6, we test the prediction of the reputation-signaling hypothesis that those who compensate are preferred as interaction partners to those who act similarly pro-socially, but not through compensation. Here we find mixed results, with compensators being preferred to those who show general pro-sociality, but less attractive than those who conform to an unrelated norm. Together, this work provides the first emotional and evolutionary account for the compensation of norm violation victims.