Political Ideology and Reactions to Crime Victims: Preferences for Restorative and Punitive Responses


Dena M. Gromet, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 3730 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340; email: denag@wharton.upenn.edu. Gromet is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Risk Management & Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; Darley is Warren Professor of Psychology at Princeton University.


We investigate the hypothesis that there are ideological differences in views about how crime victims can be restored. Across two studies, we found that liberal responses to victimization (Study 1) and crime (Study 2) are more reflective of a reparative mindset that directly addresses the needs and concerns of victims, whereas conservative responses are at least equally reflective of a punitive mindset that addresses victim harm through offender punishment. Furthermore, the salience of victim concerns, and whether people could carefully evaluate their judgments, affected the expression of these differing justice mindsets on people's satisfaction with the use of restoration and punishment in response to serious wrongdoing. When participants' cognitive resources were depleted, liberal satisfaction remained constant, whereas conservative satisfaction with the use of restoration decreased when victim concerns were salient. These results indicate that there are ideological differences in the adoption of both punitive and reparative justice mindsets, which can facilitate differing responses to victim concerns.