Through punishment, victims and third parties seek to send various "messages" to transgressors. But are the messages we wish to send effectively delivered and understood? This research explores the ways that transgressors understand the purpose of punishment, and the influence of these subjective perceptions on attitudes and behaviour. Building upon and bridging legal, psychological, and criminological theories of punishment, here we conceptualise punishment as an interpersonal interaction, wherein attributions of punisher motives is a critical factor in offenders' subjective punishment experiences. As such, we give primacy to the relational dimensions of punishment in explicating how sanctions affect behaviour. In particular, we propose that perceptions of the punishment as targeted at the transgressor-either in a benevolent or malevolent sense-is instrumental in understanding transgressor reactions to sanctions. In Study 1 (N=474) we used an on line vignette design to test whether attributions transgressors make about the punisher's motives might underlie the effectiveness of interpersonal justice interventions (i.e., elements of procedural and restorative justice). Results confirmed that interpersonally "just" (versus "unjust") punishment increased offenders' perceptions that the punisher was trying to restore the transgressor's social relationships as breached by the wrongdoing (benevolent motive), and reduced perceptions that the punisher intended harm to the transgressor (malevolent motive). These motive attributions had downstream implications for acceptance of the punishment and authority, and motivation to change.
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2021|
|Event||18th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Justice Research: Exploring Justice: Terra Firma and Terra Incognita - Online, Portugal|
Duration: 7 Jul 2021 → 10 Jul 2021
Conference number: 18th
|Conference||18th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Justice Research|
|Abbreviated title||ISJR 2021|
|Period||7/07/21 → 10/07/21|