ERIC Number: ED247505
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Effects of Reading about a Crime Having Minor or Severe Consequences on Externality and Attributions of Responsibility.
Samuel, William; And Others
In an attempt to replicate an earlier study of attribution of responsibility (Experiment 2 of Samuel et. al, 1981), this research utilized a case study describing an 18-year-old named Johnny who tripped and fell while shoplifting a rifle from a sporting goods store; the gun fired, inflicting either minor or critical injuries on a nearby customer. In the present experiment, the case study was modified to include a new variable--prior conviction--and Johnny was said to have either no police record or a prior conviction for theft. Results showed that responsibility attributed to Johnny, a salesman who had been demonstrating the gun, the customer who was wounded, and a bystanding customer significantly increased as a function of severity of consequences in the No Prior condition. In the Prior condition, however, attributed responsibility significantly decreased as a function of accident severity. A "fair" sentence assigned to Johnny was significantly influenced by both independent variables such that he received the longest sentence in the Severe-Prior condition and the shortest sentence in the Minor-No Prior condition. Subjects' (N=106) locus of control beliefs on a post-administered locus of control (I-E) scale were significantly more "external" when accident consequences were severe rather than minor. In order to further explore the latter phenomenon, the study was replicated using a group (N=137) receiving pre-administration of the I-E scale. As expected, this group's I-E scores were unaffected by the experimental manipulations, but their preliminary exposure to the scale appeared to sensitize them to the contents of the case study. As compared to the post-administration group, they were motivated to be relatively lenient toward Johnny and lacking in empathy toward the wounded and bystanding customers. (Author/JAC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Psychological Association (63rd, San Francisco, CA, April 16-20, 1983).