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NCJ Number: 76102 Find in a Library
Title: Sanctions and Social Deviance - The Question of Deterrence
Author(s): C R Tittle
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 365
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Praeger Publishers
Westport, CT 06881
Grant Number: GS-31744
Sale Source: Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West
Westport, CT 06881
United States of America
Type: Statistics
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Samples of the adult population of three States were surveyed in 1972 to gather data on individual perceptions of the probability of being caught and punished for a variety of deviant acts and to examine these perceptions under diverse conditions to rule out the deterrence validity of variables other than sanction fear.
Abstract: The study sample (a total of 1,993 individuals from households in Oregon, Iowa, and New Jersey) responded to a self-report survey which gathered information on perceptions regarding 9 deviant acts: assault, theft of $5 and under and theft of $50 and under, income tax cheating, lying to an intimate, occupational specific deviance, sitting during the national anthem, marihuana use, and illegal gambling. Criteria for deviant acts were defined, and each of the nine acts was analyzed against the criteria and arranged on a continuum from very deviant to barely deviant. In addition, each of the nine acts was ranked along three normative dimensions -- immorality, seriousness, legitimacy. The extent to which the three dimensions predicted conformity and were independent of sanction fear was explored. Multiple classification analysis was then used to estimate the causal effects of independent variables in influencing perceptions of deterrence. Propensities toward deviance were identified by subject status, residential location, and personal demographic characteristics. Where significant differences were found, they were tested for persistence by controlling for the other demographic characteristics. The general importance of sanction fear was examined by analyzing the association between various measures of sanction fear and the estimated future probabilities of deviance. Furthermore, the characteristics of sanctions as they affect the degree of expected deterrence were investigated. The evidence confirmed that fear of sanctions leads to significant curtailment of deviance. Also, perceptions of possible informal sanctions were far more effective deterrents than were perceptions of the chance of arrest. In addition, marked threshold levels existed above which perceptions of various kinds of sanction characteristics began to have deterrent effects. It was found that, in general, an informal sanction threat has to be perceived to be quite certain and a legal threat has to be perceived as very severe before there is a deterrent effect. Overall, the study concluded that perceived severity of sanctions was far more important than most theorists or researchers have assumed. The data also show that there are no clear-cut circumstances upon which deterrence is dependent. Suggestions for improving deterrence research are presented. A total of 97 tables and a bibliography of about 170 citations are given.
Index Term(s): Behavioral and Social Sciences; Deterrence; Deterrence effectiveness; Deviance; Punishment; Statistical analysis
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