Crime seriousness, recidivism risk, and causal attributions in judgments of prison term by students and experts
Two important factors in determining the assignment of prison term are crime seriousness and risk of recidivism. Although seriousness can be judged from the crime category, risk judgments require further details about the offense and the offender. 64 college students and 24 expert parole decision makers evaluated brief crime reports containing crime descriptions and background information about the offender's life circumstances. Students and experts inferred offense seriousness from the crime descriptions, but they inferred risk of future crimes from the background information. Agreement was highest for offense severity derived from the crime descriptions. Differences of opinion seemed to reflect the experts' specific knowledge about crimes and criminals. A classification of the background information in terms of the attributional dimensions of internal vs external and stable vs unstable causes of the crime was successful for predicting students' responses, but not those of the experts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved). © 1977 American Psychological Association.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)