Princeton University2014-07-07 4:29 PM

Get the MessagePunishment Is Satisfying If the Transgressor Responds to Its Communicative Intent


Results from three studies demonstrate that victims’ justice-related satisfaction with punishment is influenced by the kind of feedback they receive from offenders after punishment. In contrast to previous studies that found a discrepancy between anticipated and experienced satisfaction from punishment (Carlsmith, Wilson, & Gilbert, 2008), participants were able to accurately predict their satisfaction when made aware of the presence or absence of offender feedback acknowledging the victim’s intent to punish. Results also indicate that victims were most satisfied when offender feedback not only acknowledged the victim’s intent to punish but also indicated a positive moral change in the offender’s attitude toward wrongdoing. These findings indicate that punishment per se is neither satisfying nor dissatisfying but that it is crucial to take its communicative functions and its effects on the offender into account. Implications for psychological and philosophical theories on punishment motives as well as implications for justice procedures are discussed.

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