This study is based on a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the M.S. degree at the University of Utah.
Divergent Perceptions of Jail Inmates and Correctional Officers: The “Blame the Other-Expect to Be Blamed” Effect1
Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 11, Issue 6, pages 507–528, December 1981
How to Cite
Kagehiro, D. K. and Werner, C. M. (1981), Divergent Perceptions of Jail Inmates and Correctional Officers: The “Blame the Other-Expect to Be Blamed” Effect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 11: 507–528. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1981.tb00839.x
The authors wish to express their sincerest appreciation for the cooperation of the administrative staff, the correctional staff, and the inmates of the county jail; Dr. Eric Nielsen, Paul Buller, Brent Anderson, and Randy Oster for their help in conducting the study. Appreciation is also extended to Dr. John Harvey of Vanderbilt University and Timothy Vance of Ohio State University for graciously providing copies of their prescaling and experimental materials. Special thanks go to Dr. Charles Turner and Dr. Lynn Simons of the first author's supervisory committee.
- Issue online: 31 JUL 2006
- Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Inmates and correctional officers in a Lwnty jail made attributions of responsibility and predicted each other's attributions in response to four hypothetical stimulus incidents varying in severity of the inmate's intentional misbehavior and the severity of the officer's intentional retribution. When the misbehavior and retribution were moderate, subjects blamed both participants about equally. However, both over- and underreactions to the stimulus inmate's misbehavior elicited defensiveness, with both officers and inmates more likely to attribute responsibility to their opposite role character. In addition, both inmates and officers appeared to respond defensively to severe but equitable retributions. Subjects blamed each other, and, anticipating the other's defensiveness, expected to be blamed. Examination of the data suggested that subjects may have responded stereotypically rather than empathetically, and that defensiveness impeded rather than facilitated predictive accuracy. Results were consistent with previous research, increasing the generality of the “blame the other-expect to be blamed” effect. Additional analyses indicated that inmates were more likely than officers to notice mitigating circumstances when considering the inmates' responsibility. Three recommendations were made which may help to forestall inmate reactivity to retributions: (1) Jail personnel should have objective and clear definitions as to what constitutes major and minor infractions; (2) inmates should be aware of these criteria; and (3) jail personnel should be sensitive to mitigating circumstances and moderate their retribution or anticipate possible reactivity from inmates.