Belief about immutability of moral character and punitiveness toward criminal offenders

Authors


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kim-Pong Tam, Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. E-mail: kevintam@ust.hk

Abstract

The present research examined the association between belief about immutability of moral character and punitiveness toward criminal offenders. Overall, participants who believed that moral character is immutable (entity theorists) were more punitive than those who believed that it is changeable (incremental theorists). More important, the present research identified two mediational paths: Entity theorists made more internal attribution of criminal behavior and held stronger expectation of offenders' recidivism, both of which in turn led to stronger punitiveness. Also, contrary to some researchers' speculation, entity theorists did not perceive less controllability in criminal behavior. Implications for implicit theory research and criminal justice research are discussed.

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