True self-attributions shape judgments of blame in the context of addiction-relevant crime.
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In three studies, we examined how attributing the criminal actions of a drug-addicted offender to their "true self" influences perceptions of their blameworthiness. Study 1 revealed that attributing a drug-addicted offender's crime (theft) to his true self positively predicted judgments of the offender's blameworthiness for the crime. Study 2 employed an experimental design and revealed that information connecting a crime (vs. not connecting) to an addicted offender's true self led to greater judgments of blame, whereas learning that the offender had (vs. did not have) a genetic predisposition to addiction mitigated blame. In Study 3, participants read a vignette about a drug-addicted thief whose addiction began with a doctor's prescription, a drug-addicted thief whose addiction began with recreational drug use, or a thief with no mention of addiction. Participants in the prescription condition, but not the recreational use condition, attributed theft to the offender's true self less and ascribed less blame for the crime, relative to the no addiction condition. Furthermore, participants attributed the addiction less to the offender's true self and assigned less blame to the offender for his addiction in the prescription (vs. recreation) condition. Overall, our studies suggest that lay intuitions about true selves robustly guide people's judgments about blame in the context of crimes involving drug-addicted offenders.
author list (cited authors)
Maffly-Kipp, J., Flanagan, P. N., Schlegel, R. J., & Vess, M.
complete list of authors
Maffly-Kipp, Joseph||Flanagan, Patricia N||Schlegel, Rebecca J||Vess, Matthew