Silver, J.R., & Berryessa, C.M. (2021). Remorse, perceived offender immorality, and lay sentencing preferences. Journal of Experimental Criminology.
Objective We examine whether affective, verbal, and restitutive displays of remorse are associated with perceived offender immorality, as well as whether displays of remorse exert indirect effects on preferences for criminal sentencing via perceived offender immorality. Method Data are from an online survey, which included a sentencing vignette with experimental manipulations for offender remorse and items measuring sentencing preferences, perceived offender and offense immorality, and controls (N = 352). OLS regression and bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals were used to estimate direct and indirect effects. Replication analyses were conducted with two student samples (N = 103 and N = 131). Results Displays of remorse were associated with perceived offender immorality. Displays of remorse also exerted indirect effects on preferences for sentencing severity and support for particular sentencing goals (including incapacitation, rehabilitation, and restoration). Conclusions Affective, verbal, and restitutive displays of remorse may be associated with sentencing preferences via perceived offender immorality.