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Title: The Effects of Legal Institutional Choice on Lay Judgments of Harmdoers and Victims
Authors: Mueller, Pam
Advisors: Fiske, Susan T
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: agency
civil law
criminal law
Subjects: Psychology
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation brings together legal theory on institutional choice and psychological concepts of intent and agency. From a legal perspective, a situation in which one person or corporation harms another can lead to a criminal case, a civil case, or both. While past legal and psychological scholarship has focused on theoretical differences between the two systems, this dissertation empirically explores whether these consequences are functionally equivalent to laypeople, or whether the framing of a consequence as “civil” or “criminal” impacts lay decisions. It investigates some unanticipated effects of institutional choice by examining decisions in several domains. The first chapter shows that people do view equivalent civil and criminal consequences differently, and are more sensitive to harmdoer state of mind when a consequence is framed as “criminal.” The second chapter shows that information about harmdoers affects blame and damages judgments in criminal cases, while information about victims affects judgments in civil cases. These effects are driven in part by greater perceived agency of harmdoers in criminal cases and greater perceived agency of victims in civil cases. Further, even within the civil domain, victims who act more agentically are blamed more and are awarded less in damages. Ramifications for legal decisionmaking and for application of evidentiary rules are discussed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

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