Intuitive Jurisprudence: Early Reasoning About the Functions of Punishment

25 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2016

See all articles by Jessica Bregant

Jessica Bregant

Indiana University Maurer School of Law; University of Chicago, Booth School of Business; University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

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)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business ( email )

Chicago, IL
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jessicabregant.com

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

Chicago, IL
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

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