Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2136237
 


 



Retribution as Revenge and Retribution as Just Deserts


Monica M. Gerber


London School of Economics & Political Science - Methodology Institute

Jonathan Jackson


London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology

August 25, 2012

Social Justice Research, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 61-80, 2012

Abstract:     
Public attitudes towards law-breakers shape the tone and tenor of crime-control policy. The desire for retribution seems to be the main motivation underpinning punitive attitudes towards sentencing, yet there is some confusion in the research literature over what retribution really means. In this paper we distinguish between retribution as revenge (as the desire to punish criminal offenders to retaliate a past wrong by making the offender suffer) and retribution as just deserts (as the preference to restore justice through proportional compensation from the offender). Results from an online survey (n=176) provide evidence of two distinct dimensions of retribution, but we also show that these two dimensions have different ideological and motivational antecedents, and have different consequences in terms of the treatment of criminal offender. We find that retribution as revenge is associated with the motivation to enforce status boundaries with criminal offenders, as well as ideological preferences for power and dominance (as expressed by social dominance orientation) and in-group conformity (as expressed by right-wing authoritarianism). Endorsement of retribution as revenge also predicts the support of harsh punishment and the willingness to deny fair procedures. By contrast, retribution as just deserts is mainly predicted by a value restoration motive and by right-wing authoritarianism. After controlling for revenge, retribution as just deserts predicts support for procedural justice in the criminal courts. We conclude with the idea that beliefs about proportionality and compensation work as a buffer against the negative effects of revenge.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: retribution, revenge, just deserts, right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation

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Date posted: September 5, 2012 ; Last revised: March 11, 2013

Suggested Citation

Gerber, Monica M. and Jackson, Jonathan, Retribution as Revenge and Retribution as Just Deserts (August 25, 2012). Social Justice Research, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 61-80, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2136237 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2136237

Contact Information

Monica M. Gerber (Contact Author)
London School of Economics & Political Science - Methodology Institute ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
Jonathan Jackson
London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)
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