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Effects of remorse and shame and criminal justice experience on judgements about a sex offender

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The effect of the expression of remorse or shame on judgements about a man who committed a sexual offence, and on recommended punishment, was investigated. The effect of previous criminal justice experience on judgements and recommendations was also examined. Participants were students completing courses in justice studies. The offender was generally judged more harshly when no emotional reaction was shown, but remorse and shame did not differ in their effects. Ratings of the offender and victim were influenced by participants' level of criminal justice experience. There was no relationship between type of sentence recommended and criminal justice experience, or between type of sentence recommended and emotional expression. The results are discussed in terms of the representation of remorse and shame and of the perceived relevance of these emotions for the rehabilitation of offenders.

Keywords: Remorse; judgements; justice experience; sex offender; shame

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2006


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