The Fine Line between Interrogation and Retribution
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Forthcoming
6 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2008 Last revised: 1 Oct 2008
Date Written: October 1, 2008
The use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects is typically justified on utilitarian grounds. The present research suggests, however, that those who support such techniques are fuelled by retributive motives. An experimental study conducted with a broad national sample of U.S. residents found that the desire for harsh interrogation is largely isomorphic with the desire to punish, and that both effects are mediated by the perceived moral status of the target, but not the perceived effectiveness of the interrogation. Results are discussed with regard to retributive justice and the national policy on interrogation and torture.
Keywords: Retribution, Utility, Interrogation, Torture, Punishment motives, Retributive justice
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