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Friday, November 14, 2014

Compensation and punishment: ‘Justice’ depends on whether or not we’re a victim

New York University
Press Release
Originally released on October 28, 2014

We’re more likely to punish wrongdoing as a third party to a non-violent offense than when we’re victimized by it, according to a new study by New York University psychology researchers. The findings, which appear in the journal Nature Communications, may offer insights into how juries differ from plaintiffs in seeking to restore justice.

Their study, conducted in the laboratory of NYU Professor Elizabeth Phelps, also shows that victims, rather than seeking to punish an offender, instead seek to restore what they’ve lost.

“In our legal system, individuals are presented with the option to punish the transgressor or not, but such a narrow choice set may fail to capture alternative preferences for restoring justice,” observes Oriel FeldmanHall, the study’s lead author and a post-doctoral fellow in NYU’s Department of Psychology. “In this study we show that victims actually prefer other forms of justice restoration, such as compensation to the victim, rather than punishment of the transgressor.”