Author

Louise Hamer

Date Approved

2009

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Dr. Silvia von Kluge (chair)

Committee Member

Dr. Elliott Bonem

Committee Member

Dr. Amy Young

Abstract

This study questioned whether participants feel one person committing a crime alone is more, less, or equally responsible for his or her actions than two people committing a crime together; whether participants react differently to two equally culpable coconspirators than they do to a perpetrator who was coerced by a companion to commit the crime; and whether these factors affect the amount of responsibility attributed to the perpetrator or the length of sentence recommended. The study found that less responsibility was attributed to a coerced perpetrator; however, all perpetrators received sentences of similar lengths. Also, White respondents attributed more responsibility to the perpetrator than Black or ―other‖ respondents, and females gave longer sentences than males. It appears that the differing circumstances of the perpetrators and the backgrounds of the respondents are more influential factors than the number of perpetrators. Possible implications of these findings, methodological improvements, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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Psychology Commons

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