Why should we punish and how? The role of moral intuitions and personal worldviews for punitiveness and sentencing preferences

Öyvind Jörgensen, Artur Nilsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This research investigated the role of moral foundations and broader worldviews in judgments about why and how criminal offenders should be punished. In Study 1, Swedish law students (N = 103) and social science students (N = 130) evaluated how harsh the punishment for crimes that varied across three crime categories and five contexts should be. In Study 2, Swedish adults (N = 161) evaluated eight sentencing goals and thirteen sentencing methods. Humanism and individualizing intuitions were associated with higher punitiveness for crimes that involved a selfish motive or harm inflicted upon the victim and with increased focus on rehabilitation and counseling. Normativism and binding intuitions were associated with higher punitiveness when the damage was primarily material, less leniency when there were mitigating circumstances, and more focus on retribution, deterrence, restoration, incapacitation, denunciation, and imprisonment. The moral foundations predicted preferences concerning sentence goals and methods better while the worldviews predicted punitiveness better. The results show that we need to take both people’s moral foundations and their broader worldviews into consideration to understand why and how they think criminals should be punished.
Translated title of the contributionVem bör straffas och hur? Moraliska intuitioner och personliga världsbilders roll för synen på brott och straff
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages58
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 2023-Aug-21

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Psychology (501)

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