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The higher they are, the harder they fall: The effects of wrongdoer status on observer punishment recommendations and intentionality attributions

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  • Fragale, Alison R.
  • Rosen, Benson
  • Xu, Carol
  • Merideth, Iryna
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    Abstract

    In two studies, we explore whether the status of a wrongdoer affects observers' attributions for the wrongdoer's actions and opinions about the wrongdoer's deserved punishment. We find that observers attribute greater intentionality to the actions of high status wrongdoers than the identical actions of low status wrongdoers, and consequently recommend more severe punishments for the former than the latter. Additionally, we find that the relationship between a wrongdoer's status and observers' attributions is driven by observers' perceptions of the wrongdoer's underlying social motives: high status wrongdoers are presumed to be more interested in their own welfare (self-concerned), and less interested in the welfare of others (other-concerned), than low status individuals. These findings have implications for the psychology of retributive justice, and suggest that punitive reactions may be influenced as much by characteristics of the criminal as they are by characteristics of the crime.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WP2-4SWXDFG-1/2/94498d369c4a570e3f470f31237e30d0
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

    Volume (Year): 108 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 53-65

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:108:y:2009:i:1:p:53-65

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp

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    Keywords: Social status Wrongdoers Wrongdoings Transgressions Attributions Intentionality Retribution Retributive justice Punishment;

    References

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    1. Tiedens, Larissa Z., 2001. "Anger and Advancement versus Sadness and Subjugation: The Effect of Negative Emotion Expressions on Social Status Conferral," Research Papers 1615, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    2. Fragale, Alison R., 2006. "The power of powerless speech: The effects of speech style and task interdependence on status conferral," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 243-261, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hamilton, Rebecca W. & Puntoni, Stefano & Tavassoli, Nader T., 2010. "Categorization by groups and individuals," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 70-81, May.
    2. Agrawal, Nidhi & Han, DaHee & Duhachek, Adam, 2013. "Emotional agency appraisals influence responses to preference inconsistent information," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 87-97.
    3. Caza, Brianna Barker & Tiedens, Larissa & Lee, Fiona, 2011. "Power becomes you: The effects of implicit and explicit power on the self," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 15-24, January.

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