Animalistic descriptions of violent crimes increase punishment of perpetrators

August 4, 2014

Describing criminals and criminal activities with animal metaphors leads to more retaliation against perpetrators by inducing the perception that they're likely to continue engaging in violence, a new Aggressive Behavior study suggests.

When surveying jury?eligible adults, investigators varied animalistic descriptions of a and examined its effect on the severity of the punishment for the act. Compared with non?animalistic descriptions, animalistic descriptions resulted in significantly harsher punishment for the perpetrator due to an increase in perceived risk of recidivism.

"This research is yet another reminder that justice may be influenced by more than the facts of a case," said lead author Dr. Eduardo Vasquez.

Explore further: When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in

More information: Vasquez, E. A., Loughnan, S., Gootjes-Dreesbach, E. and Weger, U. (2014), The animal in you: Animalistic descriptions of a violent crime increase punishment of perpetrator. Aggr. Behav., 40: 337-344. DOI: 10.1002/ab.21525

Related Stories

When battered women fight back stereotyping can kick in

September 12, 2012

The topic of domestic abuse remains a controversial issue when it comes to determining punishment for battered women who use violence towards their partner. According to a recent study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, ...

More research needed on ways to reduce violence against women

June 26, 2014

Whilst there are a range of good practices in criminal justice responses to violence against women, there is limited evidence when it comes to effective interventions to reduce reoffending by perpetrators, a literature review ...

Recommended for you

Forensic examiners pass the face matching test

September 1, 2015

The first study to test the skills of FBI agents and other law enforcers who have been trained in facial recognition has provided a reassuring result - they perform better than the average person or even computers on this ...

Is neuroticism fueled by overthinking?

August 27, 2015

Isaac Newton was a classic neurotic. He was a brooder and a worrier, prone to dwelling on the scientific problems before him as well as his childhood sins. But Newton also had creative breakthroughs—thoughts on physics ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.