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Authority and Punishment: On the Ideological Basis of Punitive Attitudes towards Criminals
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.
Monica Gerber, Jonathan Jackson.
Why do people support tough sentencing of criminal offenders? Two explanations dominate the criminological literature. The first is an instrumental perspective: people are concerned about becoming victims of crime, and they look to punishment to reduce future harm. The second is a relational perspective: people are concerned about community breakdown, and they support punishment to restore moral boundaries. Two studies of London citizens (n1=13,929, n2=283) provide evidence for a third psychological model of punitive sentiment based on ideological preferences. We show that right-wing authoritarianism predicts both the extent to which people worry about threats to the social order and the extent to which they support harsh punitive measures. Bridging research from political psychology and criminology, we conclude with the idea that popular punitive sentiment is grounded in an uncritical submission to authorities, an adherence to conservative moral values, and consonant concerns about collective security and cohesion.
instrumental concerns, punitive attitudes, relational concerns, right-wing authoritarianism
Cite this article
Gerber, M., & Jackson, J. Authority and Punishment: On the Ideological Basis of Punitive Attitudes towards Criminals. Psychiatry, Psycology and Law. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1800481 (0.607)
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