Intuitive Jurisprudence: Early Reasoning About the Functions of Punishment

25 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2016

See all articles by Jessica Bregant

Jessica Bregant

University of Houston Law Center

Alex Shaw

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Katherine Kinzler

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

Traditional research on lay beliefs about punishment is often hampered by the complex nature of the question and its implications. We present a new intuitive jurisprudence approach that utilizes the insights of developmental psychology to shed light on the origins of punishment intuitions, along with the first empirical study to test the approach. Data from 80 child participants are presented, providing evidence that children expect punishment to serve as a specific deterrent, but finding no evidence that children expect punishment to have a general deterrent or rehabilitative effect. We also find that children understand punishment in a way that is consistent with the expressive theory of law and with expressive retributivism, and we present evidence that an understanding of the value of punishment to the social contract develops throughout childhood. Finally, we discuss the application of the intuitive jurisprudence approach to other important legal questions.

Suggested Citation

Bregant, Jessica and Shaw, Alex and Kinzler, Katherine, Intuitive Jurisprudence: Early Reasoning About the Functions of Punishment (December 2016). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 13, Issue 4, pp. 693-717, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2871699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12130

Jessica Bregant (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

Alex Shaw

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Katherine Kinzler

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
2
Abstract Views
588
PlumX Metrics