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NCJ Number: 73171 Find in a Library
Title: Socialpsychological Processes Underlying Attitudes Toward Legal Punishment
Journal: Law and Society Review  Volume:14  Issue:3  Dated:(Spring 1980)  Pages:565-602
Author(s): N Vidmar; D T Miller
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 38
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A theoretical framework for investigating the social-psychological dynamics of criminal offenders' reactions to punishment is developed.
Abstract: Two basic types of punishment motives are behavior control (deterrence) and retribution (providing painful consequences for the violation of cherished values). The target or focus of these motives may be the offender of a broader social audience. Further, punishment responses are influenced by characteristics of the rule that is violated, the offense, and the offender, as well as by the attitude and personality of the reactor. The more important the violated rule is to the belief or value system of the individual reactor or of the society, the more likely the punishment reaction and the stronger it will be. Three main classes of offender variables affect punishment reactions: ascriptions of intentionality and responsibility, the offender's own response to the crime, and the relationship of the violator to the reactor. Punishment reactions based on retributive motives, like those motivated by the goal of behavior control, are affected by individual differences. Cross-cultural psychological studies of the socialization of aggression suggest some of the ways that individual differences in punishment reactions may arise within a culture. Different socialization practices result in differences in the degree to which people internalize moral precepts and consider punishment appropriate for wrongdoing. The individual differences of the reactor also affect the degree of punitive reaction to various forms of rule violation. Authoritarianism as a characteristic of the reactor is especially significant in determining punitive reaction in interaction with the form of the rule violation and the characteristics of the offender. References are provided.
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Behavioral science research; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Punishment
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