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A dual-process motivational model of punitive attitudes: the effects of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation on public punitiveness

Gerber, Monica (2012) A dual-process motivational model of punitive attitudes: the effects of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation on public punitiveness. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Why do people support the harsh punishment of criminal offenders? This dissertation starts from the premise that views about punishment go far beyond concerns about crime and security. Punishment is a central component of the social order and a means by which social order is produced. It follows that ideological preferences will be crucial in understanding people’s punitive reactions. People who have a preference for collective security might support punishment to restore order and cohesion. Yet, by committing crime, offenders also seem to gain power in society and punishment can restore the status quo. Punishment might therefore have positive value for people motivated to achieve social order (people high in right-wing authoritarianism, RWA) as well as for people motivated to achieve power and dominance (people high in social dominance orientation, SDO). In this dissertation I build on criminological and socialpsychological research to propose a dual-motivational model of punitive attitudes. I examine whether the effects of RWA and SDO are mediated by different beliefs about crime and symbolic motives of punishment (Paper 1) and whether they predict different retributive goals of punishment (Paper 2). Finally, I explore the circumstances under which RWA and SDO predict punitive attitudes (Papers 3 and 4). The four papers presented in this dissertation suggest that there are, indeed, two ideological antecedents to punitive attitudes. High RWA individuals favoured harsh punishment to restore collective security, maintain hierarchies and avoid powerful criminals disrupting social order. High SDO’s did so to establish and maintain power and status hierarchies in society. However, the effect of SDO was limited to situations where crime was associated with a competitive situation. Punitiveness seems to be related to a groupbased competition for status and power with criminal offenders. Yet, high SDO individuals are not predisposed to think of criminal offenders as threats to hierarchies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Monica Gerber
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Supervisor: Jackson, Jonathan
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/504

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