Deciding about people’s responsibility, intentions and need for punishment is particularly hard and it may be often associated with counterfactual thinking, which refers to the creation of mental alternatives to actual events. Ninety-three participants were asked to generate downward or upward counterfactuals regarding a given criminal event and, then, to give judgments about defendant’s predictability, responsibility, intentionality and punishment. Results showed that downward counterfactuals had led people to judge the event less intentional, the defendant less responsible and, therefore, to give him a less severe punishment (vice versa for upward). The relationship between counterfactuals and intentionality judgments was partially mediated by the perceived defendant’s predictability of the negative outcomes. Finally, downward counterfactuals were linked to a greater focus on the context (external factors), whereas upward counterfactuals on the defendant/victim’s behaviours (internal factors). Findings were discussed considering both theoretical decision-making models and applications on the judicial field.

Decisions about a crime: downward and upward counterfactuals

GAMBETTI, ELISA;NORI, RAFFAELLA;MARINELLO, FABIO;ZUCCHELLI, MICAELA MARIA;GIUSBERTI, FIORELLA
2017

Abstract

Deciding about people’s responsibility, intentions and need for punishment is particularly hard and it may be often associated with counterfactual thinking, which refers to the creation of mental alternatives to actual events. Ninety-three participants were asked to generate downward or upward counterfactuals regarding a given criminal event and, then, to give judgments about defendant’s predictability, responsibility, intentionality and punishment. Results showed that downward counterfactuals had led people to judge the event less intentional, the defendant less responsible and, therefore, to give him a less severe punishment (vice versa for upward). The relationship between counterfactuals and intentionality judgments was partially mediated by the perceived defendant’s predictability of the negative outcomes. Finally, downward counterfactuals were linked to a greater focus on the context (external factors), whereas upward counterfactuals on the defendant/victim’s behaviours (internal factors). Findings were discussed considering both theoretical decision-making models and applications on the judicial field.
Gambetti, Elisa; Nori, Raffaella; Marinello, Fabio; Zucchelli, Micaela Maria; Giusberti, Fiorella
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/586961
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