Retributive versus compensatory justice: Observers' preference for punishing in response to criminal offenses

 
Author(s)Van Prooijen, Jan Willem
Title Retributive versus compensatory justice: Observers' preference for punishing in response to criminal offenses
Source European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 72-85 (2010)
Date 2010
Document type Journal article
Coverage The Netherlands
Summary This research examines the question whether independent observers have a relative preference for retributive or compensatory justice, following a criminal offence. Three studies were conducted. The first two tested the proposition that after observing an offence, people prefer to punish the offender rather than the victim and the third study tested the assertion that emotional proximity to the victim may be a prerequisite to be concerned about compensation. In the results it was found that the first two studies provided solid support for the supposition that observers have a relative preference to punish offenders rather than compensate victims to restore a sense of justice. Together all the results indicated that observers tend to be more concerned about retributive than compensatory justice, but only when they do not feel emotionally close to the victim. The findings also suggest that for crimes of low severity an offender who apologises and is willing to help the victim lead observers to prefer restoration of the harm done to the victim.
Keywords Retributive justice; compensation.
Topic Compensation