Reactions to Penalties for an Offence in Relation to Ethnic Identity, Responsibility, and Authoritarianism


School of Psychology. The Flinders University of South Austtalia. GPO Box 21 00, Adelaide SA 5001, Ausualia.


This study investigated the reactions of 170 student participants to a hypothetical scenario in which either an Anglo-Australian or an Asian, who either acted intentionally (high responsibility) or was duped by another (low responsibility), carried drugs into Australia and was apprehended by customs officers. Results showed that the responsibility information had strong effects on participants' judgements. Participants classified as high in right-wing authoritarianism judged the offence as more serious than low authoritarians. High authoritarians reported more positive affect about the penalty that was imposed and less justification for the offence when the perpetrator was Asian rather than Anglo-Australian. Low authoritarians showed the reverse pattern. High authoritarians also showed less discrimination between the high and low responsibility conditions when judging deservingness. Correlations between dependent variables replicated previous results and also provided new information about relations between judgements of justification, excusability, and blame.