Reactions to an offence in relation to the status and perceived moral character of the offender

N. T. Feather, Leanne Atchison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    This study tested hypotheses concerned with the use of advantaged or disadvantaged status as a cue for attributions concerning the moral character of an offender, depending on the degree to which the status followed positively or negatively valued voluntary actions rather than uncontrollable causes. It was further hypothesised that higher perceived moral character of the offender would be associated with judgements that the offender was less responsible for the offence and deserved the penalty less, with less reported anger about the offence, and with a tendency to judge the penalty as harsh. Seventy-nine participants responded to two scenarios that described a child-abuse offence and an arson offence and in which the offender either had advantaged or disadvantaged status that was controllable or uncontrollable. Results supported hypotheses concerning status and moral character. Correlations supported the importance of attributed moral character and justice variables in regard to how participants reacted to each offence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-127
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


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