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Paradigm Shift : The Power of Empathy in Shaping Public Opinions on Restorative Justice

Dalla Giacoma, Greta (2023) Paradigm Shift : The Power of Empathy in Shaping Public Opinions on Restorative Justice.

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Abstract:The current study examined whether empathy, more specifically empathy towards an offender, would make the public more supportive of restorative justice. Restorative justice is a useful justice system that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders and reconciliation of communities, contrasting the popular retributive justice method of punishing offenders. Restorative justice success and satisfaction rates prove to be high. However, the initial reaction to crime still seems to be rather punitive. Within this context, empathy was assumed to be an influential factor in changing opinions. Levels of offender empathy were expected to increase with the use of personal information from an offender, while people with retributive views were expected to experience lower levels of offender empathy. Moreover, it was hypothesized that general empathy levels would affect restorative justice support. The online experiment used a between-subject experimental research design with two conditions: confession of offender on crime vs control with just confession. Fifty-seven participants took part in the study and filled in questionnaires about general opinions and empathy levels before reading one of the stories. After that questionnaires measured offender empathy and restorative justice support. Results showed that with the use of a personal story, participants felt higher levels of offender empathy. However, against expectations, other hypotheses on the connection between empathy and restorative justice support yielded no significance. These findings indicate that offender empathy is a realistic concept, however, there is not enough evidence to say that this or general empathy could influence restorative or retributive justice orientations.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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