How information about perpetrators’ nature and nurture influences assessments of their character, mental states, and deserved punishment

Autoři: Julianna M. Lynch aff001;  Jonathan D. Lane aff002;  Colleen M. Berryessa aff003;  Joshua Rottman aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Psychology, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States of America aff001;  Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America aff002;  School of Criminal Justice, Center for Law and Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, United States of America aff003
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article


Evidence of perpetrators’ biological or situational circumstances has been increasingly brought to bear in courtrooms. Yet, research findings are mixed as to whether this information influences folk evaluations of perpetrators’ dispositions, and subsequently, evaluations of their deserved punishments. Previous research has not clearly dissociated the effects of information about perpetrators’ genetic endowment versus their environmental circumstances. Additionally, most research has focused exclusively on violations involving extreme physical harm, often using mock capital sentences cases as examples. To address these gaps in the literature, we employed a “switched-at-birth” paradigm to investigate whether positive or negative information about perpetrators’ genetic or environmental backgrounds influence evaluations of a perpetrator’s mental states, character, and deserved punishment. Across three studies, we varied whether the transgression involved direct harm, an impure act that caused no harm, or a case of moral luck. The results indicate that negative genetic and environmental backgrounds influenced participants’ evaluations of perpetrators’ intentions, free will, and character, but did not influence participants’ punishment decisions. Overall, these results replicate and extend existing findings suggesting that perpetrators’ supposed extenuating circumstances may not mitigate the punishment that others assign to them.

Klíčová slova:

Behavior – Genetic predisposition – Charts – Children – Language – Surveys – Criminal punishment


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