Presentation Title

Relationship of a Personal Connection to Someone in Prison, Level of Punitiveness, and Death Penalty Attitudes

Start Date

4-22-2020 10:00 AM

End Date

4-22-2020 8:00 PM

Major Field of Study

Psychology

Student Type

Undergraduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Ian S. Madfes, PhD

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

Traditionally, advocates of social issues have been those with a personal connection to such matters. For some, their values remain consistent with what they were taught as children. Values may also be shaped by events beyond an individual’s control, especially close contact with tragedies; these commonly lead to a greater compassion, a sympathetic consciousness of the distress felt by others together with a desire to alleviate it. Such heightened compassion should be associated with greater prosocial action and individuals with a stronger personal connection should have stronger opinions. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that someone who has been in jail/prison or who is close to someone incarcerated is more likely to have empathy towards criminals and oppose to harsher punishments.

It is hypothesized that individuals with a personal connection to someone who is/was incarcerated, or who have been in prison themselves, will be generally opposed to more punitive sentences for crimes and specifically opposed to capital punishment. It is also hypothesized that the closer the personal connection, the greater will be the level of opposition to harsher sentences.

Measure of closeness to someone in jail and attitudes about severity of punishments and the death penalty were completed by 16 men and 20 women. Data analysis did not support either hypothesis. There was almost no group differences about penalties for those who did or did not know someone incarcerated. Closeness was not significantly related to attitudes. Men were significantly more in support of the death penalty and more sever punishments.

Comments

This event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Apr 22nd, 10:00 AM Apr 22nd, 8:00 PM

Relationship of a Personal Connection to Someone in Prison, Level of Punitiveness, and Death Penalty Attitudes

Traditionally, advocates of social issues have been those with a personal connection to such matters. For some, their values remain consistent with what they were taught as children. Values may also be shaped by events beyond an individual’s control, especially close contact with tragedies; these commonly lead to a greater compassion, a sympathetic consciousness of the distress felt by others together with a desire to alleviate it. Such heightened compassion should be associated with greater prosocial action and individuals with a stronger personal connection should have stronger opinions. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that someone who has been in jail/prison or who is close to someone incarcerated is more likely to have empathy towards criminals and oppose to harsher punishments.

It is hypothesized that individuals with a personal connection to someone who is/was incarcerated, or who have been in prison themselves, will be generally opposed to more punitive sentences for crimes and specifically opposed to capital punishment. It is also hypothesized that the closer the personal connection, the greater will be the level of opposition to harsher sentences.

Measure of closeness to someone in jail and attitudes about severity of punishments and the death penalty were completed by 16 men and 20 women. Data analysis did not support either hypothesis. There was almost no group differences about penalties for those who did or did not know someone incarcerated. Closeness was not significantly related to attitudes. Men were significantly more in support of the death penalty and more sever punishments.