For example, the paper entitled The evolution of altruistic punishment explains the origins of human punishment using a model of cultural group selection.
However: there are many individual-level benefits to punishing others - in particlar, punishment is a high-status activity, which increases the punisher's rank at the expense of the rank of the recipient of punishment. Punishing others thus signals high status and improves your reputation - which may produce future benefits.
The finding that some people still expend resources punishing in anonymous one-shot interactions is probably best explained largely by resource-limited cognition - in conjunction with the unnatural nature of such interactions.
- Boyd, Robert, Gintis, Herbert, Bowles, Samuel and Richerson, Peter J. (2003) The evolution of altruistic punishment
- dos Santos M, Rankin DJ and Wedekind C. (2011) The evolution of punishment through reputation
- Rockenbach B, Milinski M. (2006) The efficient interaction of indirect reciprocity and costly punishment
- Nicolas Baumard (2012) The evolution of cooperation: from networks to institutions
- Francesco Guala (2012) Reciprocity: Weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate