Shunning for everyone: Does utilitarian rationale justify ostracism?

[Speaker] Tamai, Ryuichi:1
[Co-author] Igarashi, Tasuku:1
1:Nagoya University (Japan)

Ostracism has been widely adopted as a legal sanction but is considered to be an excessive enforcement. This study hypothesized that ostracism is executed not as a counter to deviance, but as a general preventative to protect public welfare. In the pilot survey, we measured a baseline value of ostracism endorsement by asking 127 respondents to rate their agreement with ostracism toward a deviant person without rationale. The value obtained as the baseline was 3.91 on a 10-point scale. In the main survey, 254 respondents rated how they agreed with ostracism (a) to protect the public welfare (utilitarianism), (b) to punish a problematic person (retributivism), or (c) to educate moral thinking (moral education), respectively. As predicted, utilitarianism was supported as the most efficient rationale, and its agreement level was significantly higher than the baseline. These findings indicate that people prefer to protect public welfare even if this means ostracizing others.
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