U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Investigating the Relationship between Justice-Vengeance Motivations and Punitive Sentencing Recommendations

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2013 Pages: 1-5
Jennifer Murray; Mary E. Thomson; David J. Cooke; Kathy E. Charles
Date Published
February 2013
5 pages
The present research investigated the relationship between underlying justice and vengeance motivations and sentencing recommendations made by expert clinicians, semi-experts, and lay-people.
It was hypothesized that the semi-experts would recommend significantly different sentence lengths from those recommended by the expert and lay-person groups, in line with previous research findings. It was also hypothesized that justice and vengeance motivations would be related to punitive sentencing recommendations, and that these would not be the same across the three levels of expertise. An independent groups design was utilized in the main analysis, with participants belonging to three distinct levels of clinical experience (experts, semi-experts, and lay-people). A questionnaire was administered, with participants being measured on levels of justice and vengeance motivations, and asked to recommend appropriate sentence lengths based on nine separate crime-scenarios. These covariables were correlated and the correlation coefficients were compared across the three levels of expertise. The former hypothesis was not upheld. Findings do, however, support the latter hypothesis, with the key finding indicating that for both justice and vengeance motivations in punitive judgment, it is the lay-participants who appear distinct from the experts and semi-experts. The current findings emphasize that while expert and lay-person judgments may often appear to be the same, different processes and motivations underlying clinical judgments are occurring at the different stages of expertise. With the differences in the relationships between justice and vengeance motivations and judgments found in the current research, it is argued that expert and lay judgments that appear to be the same are, in fact, distinguishable and are related to quite different underlying motivations and decisionmaking processes. Abstract published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons.