COUNTERFACTUAL THINKING AND THE PERCEPTION OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR

Neil Macrae, Alan Berkeley Milne, R J GRIFFITHS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The present research investigated the effects of counterfactual thinking on the interpretation of criminal behaviour. It was predicted that the availability of counterfactual alternatives for a crime would affect a range of incident-related judgements. The results of two studies strongly supported this prediction. When counterfactual alternatives to an outcome were readily available, subjects: (i) punished the perpetrators more severely; (ii) considered the incident to be more serious; and (iii) felt greater sympathy toward the victims. In addition, the results confirmed earlier research in this domain and demonstrated that counterfactual effects on judgemental processes are mediated by subjects' affective reaction towards events. The wider implications of these findings and their potential implications for judicial decision making are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Volume84
Publication statusPublished - May 1993

Keywords

  • NORM THEORY

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