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Some Experimental Evidence on Differences between Student and Prisoner Reactions to Monetary Penalties and Risk


  • Block, Michael K
  • Gerety, Vernon E


In this article, we report on a series of laboratory experiments that investigate whether there are differences between criminals and the general population in their relative responsiveness to changes in the certainty and severity of punishment. The results of these experiments show that, while criminals are no less able than the general population to determine their financial self-interest, there are significant differences between these two groups in the effectiveness of increases in the certainty and severity of punishment in deterring antisocial behavior. Criminals appear to be much more responsive to the certainty of punishment than to its severity. In contrast, noncriminal students, consistent with a general aversion to risk, are more easily deterred by increases in severity than by increases in the certainty of punishment. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Block, Michael K & Gerety, Vernon E, 1995. "Some Experimental Evidence on Differences between Student and Prisoner Reactions to Monetary Penalties and Risk," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 123-138, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:24:y:1995:i:1:p:123-38
    DOI: 10.1086/467954

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