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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 64539 Find in a Library
Title: ATTRIBUTION AND THE LAW - CONVERGENCES BETWEEN LEGAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:2  Issue:4  Dated:(1978)  Pages:289-300
Author(s): D MCGILLIS
Corporate Author: Plenum Publishing Corp
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: LEGAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL APPPROACHES TO ATTRIBUTION THEORY ARE DISCUSSED, AND POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY CAN MAKE TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF JUDGMENTAL BIASES IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE NOTED.
Abstract: ATTRIBUTION THEORY HAS EMERGED AS THE MOST ACTIVE AREA OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN THIS DECADE. ATTRIBUTION THEORISTS ARE INTERESTED IN HOW PEOPLE EXPLAIN THE CAUSES OF BEHAVIOR. THE FOCUS IS UPON PERCEIVED, SUBJECTIVE EXPLANATIONS RATHER THAN UPON REAL, OFTEN INDETERMINATE CAUSES. COMPLEX THEORIES OF CULPABILITY HAVE EVOLVED IN LAW WHICH SPECIFY THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH AN ACTION IS TO BE VIEWED AS VOLUNTARY OR INVOLUNTARY, JUSTIFIABLE OR NOT JUSTIFIABLE. IN CONTRAST TO LEGAL THEORIES, WHICH ATTEMPT TO DETERMINE OBJECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY, ATTRIBUTION THEORY RESEARCH ASSESSES HOW PEOPLE SUBJECTIVELY ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITY. THE THREE MAJOR ATTRIBUTION THEORIES DEVELOPED BY HEIDER, JONES AND DAVIS, AND KELLEY ARE NOTED FOR THEIR RELEVANCE TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF LEGAL JUDGMENT AND THEIR CONVERGENCE WITH LEGAL PRINCIPLES. THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES TO LEGAL THINKING IS THE ABILITY OF SOCIAL SCIENTISTS TO OPERATIONALIZE AND EMPIRICALLY TEST SOME OF THE FUNDAMENTAL LEGAL NOTIONS TO DETERMINE THE WAY IN WHICH THESE NOTIONS ARE COMBINED WITH COMMON SENSE AND APPLIED IN REALITY. EMPIRICAL RESEARCH CAN THUS INDICATE CONDITIONS IN WHICH LEGAL PRINCIPLES ARE IGNORED AND REPLACED WITH COMMON SENSE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAW. ATTRIBUTION THEORISTS AND RESEARCHES CAN MAKE A MAJOR RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION BY STUDYING THE ATTRIBUTIONAL BIASES IN THE DECISIONS OF JUDGES, JURORS, AND RELATED CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL AND BY PROVIDING SUGGESTIONS FOR THE REDUCTION OF BIASES. EFFORTS SHOULD BE DIRECTED PARTICULARLY TOWARD UNDERSTANDING AND ATTENUATING THE IMPACT OF BIASES INVOLVING A PREJUDGMENT OF THE DEFENDANT INDEPENDENT OF THE LAW AND EVIDENCE. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (MJW)
Index Term(s): Criminal responsibility; Discrimination; Legal research; Psychological theories; Research programs; Social psychology
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64539

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