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PERPETRATOR OR VICTIM? EFFECTS OF WHO SUFFERS IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT ON JUDGEMENTAL STRICTNESS

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After reading of an automobile accident in which the driver and/or bystanders either suffered or did not suffer, subjects rated the driver's responsibility for the accident and sentenced him to a jail term. The purpose of this experiment was to contrast three theoretical models: defensive attribution, moral salience, and equity. Results indicated that male subjects utilized an equity principle by relaxing their strictness of judgement, in terms of time sentenced to jail, when the accident perpetrator himself suffered harmful consequences. Females invoked a moral salience principle in that judgemental strictness increased only when bystanders were harmed. Regardless of sex, subjects expressed a preference for information regarding the personal characteristics of the accident perpetrator as contrasted with information about the environment. This finding was considered in relation to recent developments in attribution theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1975-01-01

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