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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 148229 Find in a Library
Title: Between Doing Harm and Breaking the Law: A Social- Psychological Perspective (From Psychology and Law: International Perspectives, P 95-104, 1992, Friedrich Losel, Doris Bender, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-148224)
Author(s): M Pietras
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Walter de Gruyter & Co
1 Berlin 30, Germany United
Sale Source: Walter de Gruyter & Co
Genthiner Str 13
1 Berlin 30,
Germany (Unified)
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Language: English
Country: Germany (Unified)
Annotation: This study found that people who have been harmed experience a range of emotions, formulate different justifications, and perceive responsibility for the harm and the victim's reactions.
Abstract: Individual interviews were conducted with 711 people of different ages, educational levels, and jobs. They were asked to recall and describe a situation from their life in which another person had felt harmed because of their specific behavior. Subjects answered questions concerning the intentionality of harming, emotions, reflections, attributions of responsibility, formulated justifications, perceptions of victim reactions, and the end of the episode. Results showed that family members were most often the objects of harmful behavior and that verbal forms of harming were most frequently reported. About the same proportion of harm doers did or did not experience any moral conflicts before action. Only belief in a just world and self-esteem were found to be possibly significant; respondents with high self-esteem levels and those who felt the world was just had moral conflicts before harming. People tended to perceive their own responsibility or at least joint responsibility for the harming event. Emotions experienced by perpetrators of harm included annoyance, shame, distress, anxiety, hesitation, tension, and nervousness. About 40 percent of victimizers tried to restore justice at the end of the event by offering an apology to the victim or changing their behavior. In general, people did not want to harm; the situation of harming was unpleasant and generated many negative emotions and evaluations. 8 references, 10 tables, and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Behavioral science research; Criminal intent; Criminal responsibility; Psychological research; Victims of Crime
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