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Integrating Celerity, Impulsivity, and Extralegal Sanction Threats into a Model of General Deterrence: Theory and Evidence

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We propose a model that integrates the extralegal consequences from conviction and impulsivity into the traditional deterrence framework. The model was tested with 252 college students, who completed a survey concerning drinking and driving. Key findings include the following: (1) Although variation in sanction certainty and severity predicted offending, variation in celerity did not; (2) the extralegal consequences from conviction appear to be at least as great a deterrent as the legal consequences; (3) the influence of sanction severity diminished with an individual's “present-orientation”; and (4) the certainty of punishment was far more robust a deterrent to offending than was the severity of punishment.
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... The certainty of being caught seems more deterrent than the severity of sanctions (Nagin, and Pogarsky, 2001). Yet, it might not be socially optimal to push the probability of detection too close to unity in an attempt to eradicate crime. ...
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