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The evil, poor, disliked and punished: criminal stereotypes and the effects of their cognitive, affective and behavioural outcomes on punitiveness toward crime

Côté-Lussier, Carolyn (2012) The evil, poor, disliked and punished: criminal stereotypes and the effects of their cognitive, affective and behavioural outcomes on punitiveness toward crime. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Why does the public so staunchly support harsh criminal justice policies when the social, fiscal and political costs are so great? Individuals in countries such as Canada, the UK and USA continue to want criminal offenders to receive stiffer sentences despite growing prison populations and some indication of lower crime rates (Cullen, Fisher & Applegate, 2000; Donohue, 2007; King, 2008; Raphael, 2009; Tseloni et al., 2010; Useem et al., 2003; Walmsley, 2009). Criminological research has identified cognitive and affective pathways that predict punitiveness toward crime, such as the judged wrongfulness and harmfulness of crime, and moral outrage (Carlsmith & Darley, 2008). The overall contribution of the five papers presented in this thesis is to identify the cognitive, affective and behavioural pathways that link social perception of criminals to punitiveness toward crime. Working at the intersection of social psychology and criminology, the thesis applies theoretical frameworks such as the Stereotype Content Model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick & Xu, 2002) and Behaviour from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes map (Cuddy, Fiske & Glick, 2007) to identify the functional relation between social perception and punitiveness. Using different methodologies and at different levels of analysis, this thesis provides strong evidence that the content of criminal stereotypes is associated with specific cognitive (e.g., perceiving crime as being more serious), affective (e.g., feeling anger and a lack of compassion) and behavioural (e.g., wanting to exclude and attack) responses. In turn, criminal stereotypes and their outcomes engender punitive intuitions, decisions and attitudes. These findings reconcile extant criminological research on punitiveness with social psychological research on the function of social stereotypes. This thesis also speaks more broadly to the association between punitiveness toward crime and basic social psychological processes related to interpersonal perception and relations. In this respect, this thesis makes a significant contribution to the study of punitiveness toward crime and has important social policy implications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Carolyn Côté-Lussier
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Supervisor: Jackson, Jonathan
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/475

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