Today, Marlon Mooijman successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "On the determinants and consequences of punishment goals: The role of power, distrust, and rule compliance" at Leiden University. My intelligent and critical questioning as opponent on his committee didn't throw him off one bit!
This dissertation focuses on the determinants and consequences of leaders’ punishment goals. I investigate how and why leaders rely on certain punishment goals, and how and why leaders’ reliance on such punishment goals affects punishment effectiveness. Specifically, in this dissertation I demonstrate that—with increasing power over others—leaders rely more on punishment goals that are actually suboptimal in promoting rule compliance. I demonstrate that power fosters a distrustful mindset towards people, which increases reliance on deterrence—but not just deserts as a punishment goal. Using deterrence—as opposed to just deserts—as a justification for punishments, in turn, decreases people’s willingness to comply with rules because they feel distrusted by the leader. Finally, leaders' reliance on suboptimal punishment goals can be explained by their motivation to maintain power over others. Although power may thus increase leaders’ reliance on punishments to deter rule-breaking behavior, paradoxically, this may at times decrease the effectiveness of the punishment.