Chapter

The role of moral beliefs, shame, and guilt in criminal decision making: An overview of theoretical frameworks and empirical results

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Morality, and particularly the capacity to experience shame and/or guilt, may be viewed as sediments of early experiences with the commitment of acts of crime and rule-breaking and the consequences of these acts. This chapter addresses the specific roles of moral beliefs and moral emotions such as shame and guilt and how they are related to criminal decisions. It presents an overview of relevant theoretical frameworks that explain why and how moral beliefs and moral emotions affect criminal decision making. The focus of this chapter is particularly on anticipations of shame and guilt, two powerful and painful emotions that humans naturally want to avoid. In addition, findings from empirical studies are reviewed, and implications for criminological theory and prevention are addressed.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... In dominant criminological theories, such as in social control and bonding theory, in social learning theories, moral judgments are specified in terms of moral beliefs as part of the social bond and belief in the moral validity of the law (Hirschi, 1969), as definitions favorable toward criminal behavior (Sutherland, 1947; see also Akers (1998)). However, the moral belief system deals with much more than cognitive evaluations; it also includes affective, emotional, and motivational features (Svensson et al., 2017). Introducing MFT's theorizing on the essentially intuitive and emotional nature of morality upon which cultures around the world built their moral systems holds promise as a framework for criminological research, although we recognize that in recent years, integrated theories have emerged in criminology that stress the importance of morality in the explanation of crime, such as situational action theory (SAT; Wikström et al., 2012) and social concern theory (SCT; Agnew, 2014). ...
... This study confirms that the separation of performance and morality judgments makes consumers feel less guilty, thereby facilitating the support for companies involved in unethical conduct (Cowan & Yazdanparast, 2019). Guilt is a self-conscious and social emotion that emerges in response to personal failure when a moral dilemma is present in a behavior (Svensson et al., 2017). As opposed to moral rationalisation, decoupling strategies reduce tensions and feelings of guilt for the consumer because it allows them to still recognise and chastise the immorality of the company. ...
Article
Consumers often continue to support companies involved in unethical conduct. Yet, a theoretical understanding of such behavior is lacking. This study aims to demonstrate that moral decou-pling enables consumers to offer continuous support for companies involved in unethical conduct by reducing feelings of guilt in the purchase decision. It further intends to explore how personality traits moderate the influence of decoupling mechanisms on purchase intentions and to show how the moral intensity of misconduct affects consumers' activation of moral decoupling. Four empirical studies were conducted, revealing that decoupling explains purchase intentions both directly and indirectly through guilt. The study also shows that consumers' empathic concern and moral identity moderate decoupling processes. High moral intensity of unethical conduct diminished engagement in moral decoupling.
Chapter
This chapter discusses the limitations of the current study and potentially fruitful avenues for future research. Attention is placed on both theoretical and methodological challenges.KeywordsStrengthsLimitationsTheoretical challengesMethodological challenges
Technical Report
Full-text available
This document describes the background and methodology of the fourth round of the International Self-Report Delinquency study (ISRD4). Drawing from the fields of criminology, public health and cross-national methodology, the ISRD is an ongoing multi-national research study that aims to describe and explain adolescents’ experiences with crime and victimization, to test criminological theories, and to develop recommendations for prevention and interventions. The project relies on a common research protocol, which standardizes questionnaire content and administration, and prescribes comparable sampling procedures in participating countries enabling the collection of common data across all of them. The ISRD4 Study Protocol describes the standard sections of the ISRD4 questionnaire (core and sweep-specific), for both the school-based as well as the internet-based samples. In addition to the core ISRD items, the ISRD4 questionnaire includes new items related to cyber-offending and -victimization, discrimination, and perceptions of violence and revenge motives. The protocol also describes the rationale for including an internet-based survey as a complement to the school-based survey. The document aims to provide a detailed set of guidelines for participating national teams but will also be of interest to researchers interested in youth victimization and offending, theory-testing, and cross-national methodology. Fieldwork in approximately 40 countries began in 2020 and will conclude by the end of 2022.
Article
Trait‐state models aim to provide an encompassing view of offender decision‐making processes by linking individual dispositions to proximal factors. In an experiment using an immersive virtual reality bar fight scenario, we propose and test a trait‐state model that identifies the pathways through which robust personality correlates of aggressive behavior, that is, agreeableness, emotionality, and honesty‐humility, result in intentions to aggress. Using structural equation modeling, we show how these personality traits relate to intentions to aggress via anger, fear, perceived risk, and anticipated guilt/shame. Additionally, we demonstrate superior validity of our virtual scenario over a written version of the same scenario by virtue of its ability to provide more contextual realism, to establish a stronger sense of presence, and to trigger more intense emotional states relevant to the decision situation. Implications for future decision‐making research and theory are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
The article presents the significance of teachers’ educational competences which are necessary to counteract the destructive effects of sects on children and the youth. Analysis of the literature proves that sects pose a real threat to young people and their families. The situation requires teachers to improve their educational competences to successfully recognize a potential threat, identify its scale and design preventive measures. The article indicates strengthening and developing substantive, methodological and educational competences among teachers as the three most important area of work. Artykuł przedstawia kwestię kompetencji edukacyjnych i wychowawczych nauczycieli w zakresie przeciwdziałania destrukcyjnemu działaniu sekt na dzieci i młodzież. Analiza literatury przedmiotu dowodzi, że sekty stanowią realne zagrożenie dla młodzieży i ich rodzin. W związku z tą sytuacją istnieje potrzeba kształtowania i podnoszenia kompetencji nauczycieli w obszarze rozpoznawania zjawiska sekt, diagnozy stopnia zagrożenia i projektowania oddziaływań profilaktycznych. Artykuł wskazuje na trzy najważniejsze obszary wymagające szczególnego namysłu i troski, do których zalicza się wzmacnianie i rozwijanie wśród nauczycieli kompetencji merytorycznych, metodycznych i wychowawczych.
Article
In this study we examined to what extent different combinations of parent–child relationships explain adolescents’ moral values and whether the influence of school and peers predicts moral values. We also investigated whether anticipated shame and anticipated guilt predict moral values. A convenience sample of 1,120 adolescents, including 120 adolescents in youth custody, was used. Results suggest that combinations of parent–child relationships do not predict moral values, that school and peers are significant predictors of adolescents’ moral values, and anticipated shame and guilt do not consistently and equally predict moral values. Results were highly similar for boys and girls.
Chapter
This chapter updates literature on shame, guilt, and workplace bullying and introduces different possible cognitive behavioral approaches that could be used to help remediate the shame underlying bullying in the workplace. Differences between shame and guilt are distinguished in terms of their consequences. Given these consequences, a move towards guilt promotion (i.e, acceptance of responsibility) will be argued. Methods to move from shame to guilt will be explored using different cognitive behavioral approaches with an emphasis on strategies for overcoming shame and promoting pro-social work behaviors such as taking responsibility and experiencing empathy.
Book
Full-text available
Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions Volume II presents all new chapters in the ever developing area of the sociology of emotions. The volume is divided into two sections: Theoretical Perspectives and Social Arenas of Emotions. It reviews major sociological theories on emotions, which include evolutionary theory, identity theory, affect control theory, social exchange theory, ritual theory, and cultural theory among others. Social arenas where emotions are examined include, but are not limited to, the economy and the workplace, the family, mental health, crime, sports, technology, social movements, and the field of science. All the chapters review the major theories and research in the area, and each chapter ends with some discussion of directions for future research. The Sociology of Emotions is a fast growing and vital field in the broad discipline of Sociology. This volume II follows the Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions which was first published in 2006. In 2008, this first handbook received the “Outstanding Recent Contribution” in the Emotions Section of the American Sociological Association. With contributions from leading scholars from different areas in the discipline, such as neurosociology, culture, economics, mental health, gender, social movements, discussing state-of-art theory and research on emotions in sociology this volume will generate wider appeal to the sociological community.
Article
Full-text available
Contextual research on delinquency is primarily based on the idea that residential areas provide a major ecological setting that (indirectly) shapes observed differences in delinquency. Just like neighborhoods, schools differ in terms of their level of structural characteristics such as the concentration of immigrant children and children from disrupted families. Such characteristics may also shape delinquency. The present study aims to test the relationship between structural characteristics of schools and child antisocial behavior, using a sample of elementary school children (N = 779, aged 10-12 years in the urban context of Ghent, Belgium). This study found that the concentration of children from disrupted families has an independent effect on child delinquency, independent of social bonds, moral cognitions, and moral emotions. The contextual effect is fully mediated by exposure to peer delinquency.
Article
Full-text available
This study examines whether morality and self-control have an interactional effect on offending. Drawing from the situational action theory, the authors hypothesize that self-control has a more important effect on offending for individuals with low levels of morality than for individuals with high levels of morality. To test this hypothesis, self-report data were used from three independent samples of young adolescents in Antwerp, Belgium (N = 2,486); Halmstad, Sweden (N = 1,003); and South-Holland, the Netherlands (N = 1,978). The findings provide strong support for the hypothesis that the effect of self-control on offending is dependent on the individual’s level of morality. The similarity of the results across three independent samples suggests that the findings are robust among different cultural backgrounds and among studies with different operationalizations of the central concepts of interest.
Article
Full-text available
In this study we examine whether feelings of anticipated shame and anticipated guilt when being caught for an offence mediate the relationship between parental monitoring, bonds with parents and school, deviant peers, moral values and offending. We use data from the SPAN project, a study that collected detailed information about offending, moral emotions and socialization among 843 adolescents in The Hague, the Netherlands. The results show that moral emotions of both anticipated shame and guilt have a strong direct effect on offending. The results also show that the relationship between parental monitoring, deviant peers, moral values and offending is substantially mediated by anticipated shame and guilt. This study clearly suggests that both shame and guilt need to be included in the explanation of offending.
Article
Full-text available
Fundamental in the field of emotions is the question of how many emotion there are or there can be. The answer proposed here is that the number of possible emotions is limites. As long as society differentiates new social situations, labels them, and socializes individuals to experience them, new emotions will continue to emerge. But this view must be qualified by an understanding of the autonomic constraints that limit variability in the experience of emotions. It is argued here that there are four psychologically grounded primary emotions: fear, anger, depression, and satisfaction. They are evolutionarily important, cross-culturally universal, ontogenetically early to emerge, and link empirically with important outcomes of social relations. Secondary emotions, such as guilt, shame, pride, gratitude, love, nostalgia, ennui, and so forth, are acquired through socializing agents who define and label such emotions while the individual is experiencing the autonomic reactions of one of the "primaries." Hence, it is argued here, guilt is a socialized response to arousal of the physiological conditions of fear; shame to those of anger; pride to those of satisfaction; and so on. This integration of primary with secondary emotions incorporates the contributions of both positivist and social constructionist positions in the sociology of emotions.
Article
Full-text available
In this article we explore a self-regulatory perspective on the self-evaluative moral emotions, shame and guilt. Broadly conceived, self-regulation distinguishes between two types of motivation: approach/activation and avoidance/inhibition. We use this distinction to conceptually understand the socialization dimensions (parental restrictiveness versus nurturance), associated emotions (anxiety versus empathy), and forms of morality (proscriptive versus prescriptive) that serve as precursors to each self-evaluative moral emotion. We then examine the components of shame and guilt experiences in greater detail and conclude with more general implications of a self-regulatory perspective on moral emotions.
Article
Full-text available
Sociology has seen a renewed interest in the study of morality. However, a theory of the self that explains individual variation in moral behavior and emotions is noticeably absent. In this study, we use identity theory to explain this variability. According to identity theory, actors are self-regulating entities whose goal is to verify their identities. An individual’s moral identity—wherever it falls on the moral–immoral continuum—guides behavior, and people experience negative emotions when identity verification does not ensue. Furthermore, the identity verification process occurs within situations that have cultural expectations—that is, framing rules and feeling rules—regarding how individuals should act and feel. These cultural expectations also influence the degree to which people behave morally. We test these assumptions on a sample of more than 350 university students. We investigate whether the moral identity and framing situations in moral terms influences behavior and feelings. Findings reveal that the identity process and framing of situations as moral are significantly associated with moral action and moral emotions of guilt and shame.
Article
Full-text available
The social science literature abounds with unconnected and, so it seems, diverse propositions about the emergence of norms. This article sets out to show that many of these propositions only differ in regard to terminology. Proponents of different theoretical orientations seem to accept a key hypothesis that is called “instrumentality proposition”: norms emerge if they are instrumental for attaining the goals of a group of actors. Apart from a problematic functionalist version the article focuses on an individualistic version: if actors want to achieve certain goals and if a norm is instrumental to attain these goals individuals perform those actions that bring about the norm. This proposition involves several assumptions that are discussed. This version of the instrumentality proposition explains norms that are planned (i.e., that are second-order public goods). In order to account for the evolutionary emergence of norms a second version of the instrumentality proposition is discussed. It assumes that actors do not want to create a general norm but aim at providing certain private goods in interaction situations. For example, smokers sanction non-smokers in order not to be exposed to smoke in the interaction situation, but non-smokers do not want to engender a general non-smoking-norm. However, the aggregated effect of those actions is often a general norm. The article further explores problems of the two instrumentality propositions, the extent to which they answer important questions of a theory of norm emergence and alternative propositions to explain norms.
Chapter
Full-text available
The “moral emotions” are often considered to be shame, guilt, sympathy, and empathy (Tangney and Dearing 2002), and, to a lesser degree, contempt, anger, and disgust (Rozin et al. 1999), but a moment of reflection reveals that this view is far too narrow. The palate of human emotions is much larger and diverse than this short list of moral emotions; and since human capacities for emotion evolved to increase moral commitments to others, social structures and culture, many more emotions have moral effects. For example, righteousness, awe, veneration, joy, happiness, remorse, vengeance, and even sadness can mark emotional arousal over moral issues, as we hope to demonstrate. Moreover, as the literature makes clear, the arousal of emotions like shame and guilt can set into motion cognitive and psychodynamic processes such as attribution, expectation states, repression, displacement, or projection that transmute the initial arousal of an emotion like shame into anger, fear, disgust, and hatred (Lewis 1971; Scheff 1990; Turner 2002). These and other emotional states are ultimately connected to morality, even if a person and others do not fully recognize this connection. Thus, from a sociological perspective, the study of moral emotions soon brings into play a much larger array of human emotions. The goal is to understand both the sociocultural dynamics and psychodynamics by which emotional arousal is fueled by considerations of morality.
Article
Full-text available
This study of 550 jail inmates (379 male and 171 female) held on felony charges examines the reliability and validity of the Test of Self Conscious Affect -Socially Deviant Version (TOSCA-SD; Hanson & Tangney, 1996) as a measure of offenders' proneness to shame and proneness to guilt. Discriminant validity (e.g., vis-à-vis self-esteem, negative affect, social desirability/impression management) and convergent validity (e.g., vis-à-vis correlations with empathy, externalization of blame, anger, psychological symptoms, and substance use problems) was supported, paralleling results from community samples. Further, proneness to shame and guilt were differentially related to widely used risk measures from the field of criminal justice (e.g., criminal history, psychopathy, violence risk, antisocial personality). Guilt-proneness appears to be a protective factor, whereas there was no evidence that shame-proneness serves an inhibitory function. Subsequent analyses indicate these findings generalize quite well across gender and race. Implications for intervention and sentencing practices are discussed.
Article
Full-text available
A self-regulatory framework for distinguishing between shame and guilt was tested in three studies. Recently, two forms of moral regulation based on approach versus avoidance motivation have been proposed in the literature. Proscriptive regulation is sensitive to negative outcomes, inhibition based, and focused on what we should not do. Prescriptive regulation is sensitive to positive outcomes, activation based, and focused on what we should do. In the current research, consistent support was found for shame's proscriptive and guilt's prescriptive moral underpinnings. Study 1 found a positive association between avoidance orientation and shame proneness and between approach orientation and guilt proneness. In Study 2, priming a proscriptive orientation increased shame and priming a prescriptive orientation increased guilt. In Study 3, transgressions most apt to represent proscriptive and prescriptive violations predicted subsequent judgments of shame and guilt, respectively. This self-regulatory perspective provides a broad interpretive framework for understanding and extending past research findings.
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the relation of personality traits--shame-proneness, guilt-proneness, and pride--on offending behavior. Using survey data from a sample of 224 college students, the construct and criterion-related validity of scales of the Shame Proneness Scale, the Test of Self-conscious Affect, and the Personality Feelings Questionnaire-2 were assessed. Regression analyses showed that self-conscious emotions are important in the etiology of criminal offending. Specifically, rated pride was positively correlated with self-reported criminal activity, whereas ratings of guilt were negatively associated with offending. The relation of shame with criminality varied depending on the type of measure used to indicate proneness to shame.
Article
Full-text available
In a longitudinal study of children followed for 8 years into adolescence, the authors investigated how different forms of maltreatment (i.e., harsh parenting, sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence) in childhood and parenting during adolescence influenced adolescents' shame- and guilt-proneness. Furthermore, the authors examined whether diminished feelings of guilt or heightened feelings of shame were related to delinquent behavior or depression in late adolescence. Results showed that whereas harsh parenting in childhood was related to shame proneness in adolescence, this relationship was mediated by parental rejection in adolescence. Findings confirmed that youth with rejecting parents were more shame-prone and less guilt-prone than other youth. Furthermore, shame-proneness was associated with higher depression when measured 2 years later and guilt-proneness was linked to less delinquent behavior. Results suggest that, as mediators, shame and guilt may provide useful focal points for intervention and prevention efforts in reducing adolescent depression and delinquency.
Article
Full-text available
Moral emotions represent a key element of our human moral apparatus, influencing the link between moral standards and moral behavior. This chapter reviews current theory and research on moral emotions. We first focus on a triad of negatively valenced "self-conscious" emotions-shame, guilt, and embarrassment. As in previous decades, much research remains focused on shame and guilt. We review current thinking on the distinction between shame and guilt, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two moral emotions. Several new areas of research are highlighted: research on the domain-specific phenomenon of body shame, styles of coping with shame, psychobiological aspects of shame, the link between childhood abuse and later proneness to shame, and the phenomena of vicarious or "collective" experiences of shame and guilt. In recent years, the concept of moral emotions has been expanded to include several positive emotions-elevation, gratitude, and the sometimes morally relevant experience of pride. Finally, we discuss briefly a morally relevant emotional process-other-oriented empathy.
Article
Full-text available
A meta-analysis of 50 studies was conducted to investigate whether juvenile delinquents use lower levels of moral judgment than their nondelinquent age-mates and, if so, what factors may influence or moderate the developmental delay. The results show a lower stage of moral judgment for juvenile delinquents (d=.76). Effect sizes were large for comparisons involving male offenders, late adolescents, delinquents with low intelligence, and incarcerated delinquents. The largest effect sizes were found for period of incarceration and comparisons involving juvenile delinquents with psychopathic disorder. Production instead of recognition measures, dilemma-free assessment methods, and non-blind scoring procedures yielded relatively large effect sizes, whereas effect sizes were medium for comparisons involving delinquents with average intelligence, non-incarcerated delinquents, female offenders, as well as early and middle adolescents. Psychopathic disorder and institutionalization were identified as unique moderators of the link between moral judgment and juvenile delinquency. It is concluded that developmentally delayed moral judgment is strongly associated with juvenile delinquency, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, gender, age and intelligence.
Book
The assumption that rewards and punishments influence our choices between different courses of action underlies economic, sociological, psychological, and legal thinking about human action. Hence, the notion of a reasoning criminal-one who employs the same sorts of cognitive strategies when contemplating offending as they and the rest of us use when making other decisions-might seem a small contribution to crime control. This conclusion would be mistaken. This volume develops an alternative approach, termed the "rational choice perspective," to explain criminal behaviour. Instead of emphasizing the differences between criminals and non-criminals, it stresses some of the similarities. In particular, while the contributors do not deny the existence of irrational and pathological components in crimes, they suggest that the rational aspects of offending should be explored. An international group of researchers in criminology, psychology, and economics provide a comprehensive review of original research on the criminal offender as a reasoning decision maker. While recognizing the crucial influence of situational factors, the rational choice perspective provides a framework within which to incorporate and locate existing theories about crime. In doing so it also provides both a new agenda for research and sheds a fresh light on deterrent and prevention policies.
Book
Part I. The Nature of Morality and the Development of Social Values: 1. Morality and domains of social knowledge 2. Morality and religious rules 3. Morality and the personal domain 4. Morality in context: issues of development 5. Morality in context: issues of culture 6. Morality and emotion 7. Reconceptualizing moral character Part II. Classroom Applications: 8. Creating a moral atmosphere 9. Integrating values education into the curriculum: a domain approach 10. Fostering the moral self Conclusion: keeping things in perspective Additional resources.
Article
We propose that significant others and conscience function as agents of social control in a manner similar to the State. All three pose possible threats or costs that are more or less certain and severe which actors take into account in considering whether or not to violate the law. State-imposed costs, which have been addressed in the literature on deterrence, are material deprivations in the form of fines and incarceration. Socially imposed costs are the embarrassment or loss of respect actors might experience when they violate norms which significant others support. Self-imposed costs are shame or guilt feelings which actors might impose upon themselves when they offend their own conscience by engaging in behaviors they consider morally wrong. The threats of shame and embarrassment, like the threat of legal sanctions, affect the expected utility of crime and, thus, the likelihood that crime will occur. In the research reported here, parallel measures are developed of the perceived threats of each of these three kinds of punishment for three illegal behaviors (tax cheating, petty theft, drunk driving). The effects of these perceived threats on people's intentions to violate the law are then examined in a random sample of adults. Threats of shame and of legal sanctions inhibit the inclination to commit each of the three offenses, but the findings for embarrassment appear less compatible with the expected utility model.
Article
A thought-provoking examination of how explanations of social and moral development inform our understandings of morality and culture. A common theme in the latter part of the twentieth century has been to lament the moral state of American society and the decline of morality among youth. A sharp turn toward an extreme form of individualism and a lack of concern for community involvement and civic participation are often blamed for the moral crisis. Turiel challenges these views, drawing on a large body of research from developmental psychology, anthropology, sociology as well as social events, political movements, and journalistic accounts of social and political struggles. Turiel shows that generation after generation has lamented the decline of society and blamed young people. Using historical accounts, he persuasively argues that such characterizations of moral decline entail stereotyping, nostalgia for times past, and a failure to recognize the moral viewpoint of those who challenge traditions.
Article
School delinquency has been linked to an array of negative educational outcomes, and if left unchecked, may lead to more serious problems in adulthood. Identifying the risk and protective factors that influence school delinquency is therefore crucial to develop effective intervention programs. Utilizing Hirschi's social bond theory as a framework, the authors investigated the relationships between social bonds (i.e., parental involvement, bond to school, beliefs, commitment to sport activities, commitment to non‐sport activities, and involvement) and school delinquency among a nationally representative sample of 10th graders. Special attention was given to gender differences. Results indicate that social bond measures account for a significant variance in school delinquency (11.2%, p p Document Type: Research Article DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pits.21662 Publication date: February 1, 2013 $(document).ready(function() { var shortdescription = $(".originaldescription").text().replace(/\\&/g, '&').replace(/\\, '<').replace(/\\>/g, '>').replace(/\\t/g, ' ').replace(/\\n/g, ''); if (shortdescription.length > 350){ shortdescription = "" + shortdescription.substring(0,250) + "... more"; } $(".descriptionitem").prepend(shortdescription); $(".shortdescription a").click(function() { $(".shortdescription").hide(); $(".originaldescription").slideDown(); return false; }); }); Related content In this: publication By this: publisher By this author: Hart, Caroline O. ; Mueller, Christian E. GA_googleFillSlot("Horizontal_banner_bottom");
Article
This Presidential Address explores the possibilities for fruitful multilevel theorizing in criminology by proposing an integration of insights from situational action theory (SAT), a distinctively micro‐level perspective, with insights from institutional anomie theory (IAT), a distinctively macro‐level perspective. These perspectives are strategic candidates for integration because morality plays a central role in both. IAT can enrich SAT by identifying indirect causes of crime that operate at the institutional level and by highlighting the impact of the institutional context on the perception‐choice process that underlies crime. Such multilevel theorizing can also promote the development of IAT by revealing the “micro‐instantiations” of macro‐level processes and by simulating further inquiry into the social preconditions for institutional configurations that are conducive to low levels of crime. Finally, drawing on Durkheim's classic work on occupational associations, I point to the potential role of professional associations such as the American Society of Criminology in promoting and sustaining a viable moral order in the advanced capitalist societies.
Article
During the last decade, a process of ‘emotionalization of law’ has spread around the globe, changing the criminal justice system in many ways. Anger, disgust and shame are perceived as ‘valuable barometers of social morality’ and brought back to criminal procedures. The ‘return of emotions’ to penal law and criminal justice is linked to and illuminates the moral imagination of late modern societies. This article seeks to address two facets of the ‘return of emotions’ to criminal justice. The first part explores the changes in the public sphere and in the pattern of emotional culture in late modern societies that are responsible for the reemotionalization of the penal realm. In the second part, problems that emerge in the criminal justice system are addressed. Bringing emotions back involves profound problems that go beyond the mere instrumental use of emotions in criminal justice, or a restricted perspective of ‘what works’. Three ‘core’ problems—and associated—questions are discussed: first, are emotional reactions towards crimes ‘natural’ or ‘primordial’ such that they should occupy a prominent place in criminal justice that has been unduly ignored? Second, and relatedly, do emotions constitute our moral principles? Finally, should institutions elicit or even require ‘authentic emotions’ from individuals? These questions are addressed within the framework of contemporary emotion theory and the consequences of this perspective for the ‘use’ of emotions in criminal justice are discussed.
Article
Shame and guilt are moral emotions that result from deviations from internalized standards. Both constructs differ with respect to their genesis, to the emotions accompanying them, and to their behavioral consequences. Shame is associated with a loss of self-respect, social withdrawal, anger, and aggression. Guilt, on the other hand, supports prosocial behavior and motivates compensation for the inflicted loss. Based on repeated interviews with 1,243 offenders from six prisons for young offenders, the study examined to what extent feelings of shame and guilt experienced during a prison term influenced recidivism after release. An event-history analysis indicated that feelings of guilt at the beginning of a prison term correlated with lower rates of recidivism, and feelings of shame correlated with higher rates. Results are discussed with regard to their implications for further research and the justice system.
Article
The awarding of the 1992 Nobel Pnze for Economics to Gary Becker draws attention to Becker's outstanding work in economics. At the same time, it draws attention to a new phenomenon, for which Becker himself is more responsible than anyone else: the use of basic principles of economics to address problems in sociology Much of the work for which Becker is best known treats problems that are quite outside the field of economics proper and fully within the field of sociology. What is striking about this is that Becker remains committed to the explanatory logic of neo-classical economics; he applies that logic uncompromisingly, using the same tools in examining marriage markets as in examining financial markets. In this paper, some of Becker's work on sociological problems are discussed and assessed.
Article
The object of this research is to investigate the relationship between gender, parent-child relations, shame and juvenile delinquency. The study proceeds from a social bonding theoretical framework and hypothesizes that shame will act as an intervening mechanism through which poor parent-child relations impact upon delinquency. The present study addresses three key research questions. Are girls more strongly attached to and controlled by their parents than boys are? Do girls feel more shame in the face of significant others than boys do? And, finally, does shame mediate the effect of parent-child relations in the explanation of delinquency? A total of 979 students in grade 8 of the Swedish school system (aged 14; 505 boys and 474 girls) were included in the study. The findings show girls to be more strongly attached to parents, to be more controlled and to feel more shame than boys. Finally, the analyses show that feeling less shame in the face of significant others tended to mediate the effect of poor parent-child relations on delinquency for girls. For boys, both family interaction and shaming components are significantly related to delinquency.
Article
This paper builds on work by Nagin and Paternoster in which they contend that two recent developments in criminological theory, self-control and rational choice, have been explored separately rather than in conjunction with one another. In their analysis, Nagin and Paternoster found direct effects for variables from each of these theories and called for more research into simultaneous examination of the two. We build on their work by delineating a more highly specified model of rational offending, in which we observe that the research thus far has not examined the indirect effects of low self-control. We believe that this area is grossly underdeveloped and that such an examination is necessary for a more complete understanding of criminal offending. We advance three hypotheses concerning the integration of low self-control into a rational choice framework: (1) that low self-control will have both direct and indirect effects via situational characteristics on intentions to shoplift and drive drunk; (2) that situational characteristics will have direct effects on intentions to deviate, as well as effects on other situational factors; and (3) that a model uniting the effects of low self-control and situational characteristics will provide a good fit to the data. We find support for all these hypotheses and suggest that future theoretical developments will be improved by the integration of low self-control with situational characteristics in a more general model of offending.
Article
This study examined the effects of shame proneness and two types of anticipated shame states—shame due to exposure and shame without exposure—in a rational choice model of offending intentions. Using scenario-based survey data from a sample of university students, it was found that (a) anticipated shame states without exposure reduced intentions to drive drunk and shoplift and (b) anticipated shame states due to exposure reduced shoplifting intentions. By contrast, shame proneness had a positive effect on decisions to commit both drunk driving and shoplifting. The findings support the rational choice model of offending and indicate that the effects of shame are important components in individuals' decisions to offend.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
In explaining crime, some criminological theories emphasize time-stable individual differences in propensity to offend while others emphasize more proximate and situational factors. Using scenario data from a sample of college undergraduates we have found evidence to support both positions. A measure of criminal propensity (poor self-control) was found to be significantly related to self-reported decisions to commit three offenses (drunk driving, theft, and sexual assault). Even after considering differences in self-control, there was evidence to suggest that the attractiveness of the crime target, the ease of committing the crime with minimum risk, and perceptions of the costs and benefits of committing the crime were all significantly related to offending decisions. Our results suggest that theories of criminal offending should include notions pertaining to persistent individual differences in criminal propensity and choice-relevant variables.
Article
Rational choice theory (RCT) constitutes a major approach of sociological theorizing and research in Europe. We review key methodological and theoretical contributions that have arisen from the increasing empirical application of RCT and have the potential to stimulate the development of RCT and sociology more generally. Methodologically, discussions have evolved around how to test RCT empirically and how to realize its ambition to give theory-guidance to social research. These discussions have identified the strengths and shortcomings of direct and indirect test strategies using survey or experimental data. Metatheoretically, different views have emerged about how to deal with counterevidence from applied fields of sociological research. Whereas some argue for a wide version of RCT that allows a broad set of auxiliary assumptions about preferences, expectations, and constraints, others advocate a major overhaul of RCT's core assumptions by incorporating additional concepts and mechanisms.
Article
In this paper, we argue that quantitative empirical research to explain and predict criminal and related behaviour can benefit greatly from explicit theories of action linking individual and contextual factors in the causation of crime. Such theories foster a systematic selection of causal variables for data collection and hypothesis testing instead of a more indiscriminate accumulation of ‘risk factor’ correlates. Moreover, action theory encourages statistical modelling of crime causation beyond the most common linear regression. This paper illustrates both points by estimating two empirical models – a conventional logistic model and a Rasch model – on scenario response data concerning youth violence. The findings of this study show that the extent to which young people indicate a violent response to a provocation is dependent on their (law relevant) morality and ability to exercise self-control as well as the deterrent qualities (monitoring) of the setting.
Article
Criminological research suggests that informal sanctions like shaming may have a stronger influence on crime than do formal sanctions, but research has yet to examine whether anticipated shaming may mediate the relationship between crime and variables derived from dominant micro-level theories. The present paper argues that variables derived from learning, control, strain, and deterrence theories influence criminal offending via their effect on anticipated shaming. Using data collected from a sample of young adults, results from both tobit and path analyses suggest that the prospect of shaming among friends and family bears a stronger direct relation to criminal intent than do more commonly examined variables and that the effect of such variables on criminal intent is largely indirect, mediated by anticipated shaming. We therefore suggest that crime control efforts might benefit from incorporating a greater role for Braithwaite's conception of reintegrative shaming.Research Highlights►The present article argues that anticipated shaming among significant others may mediate the influence of such variables as self-control, differential association, and perceived certainty of being caught on criminal intent. ►Results suggest that anticipated shaming is a stronger direct predictor of criminal intent among young adults than are the other above variables. ►Results also suggest support for the notion that anticipated shaming mediates a large portion of the other above variables’ associations with criminal intent.
Article
Children learn moral values and social conventions through a process of socialization, much of which involves parenting. The process is bidirectional and involves a complex interplay between evolutionary predispositions and genetic and socio-cultural factors. Children's perception of, or assignment of meaning to, parenting interventions is central. Socialization occurs in different domains marked by different aspects of the parent-child relationship and different underlying mechanisms. Each domain requires different parenting actions that must be matched to the domain in which the child is operating and that result in different outcomes for the child. The domains include protection, mutual reciprocity, control, guided learning, and group participation, and are assumed to be operative in all cultures. The review concludes that children need to experience their parents as supportive and understanding, that they need structure, and that they need to feel they have some degree of control over their own actions.
Article
Despite increasing knowledge of social and biological risk factors for antisocial and violent behavior, we know surprisingly little about how these two sets of risk factors interact. This paper documents 39 empirical examples of biosocial interaction effects for antisocial behavior from the areas of genetics, psychophysiology, obstetrics, brain imaging, neuropsychology, neurology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and environmental toxins. Two main themes emerge. First, when biological and social factors are grouping variables and when antisocial behavior is the outcome, then the presence of both risk factors exponentially increases the rates of antisocial and violent behavior. Second, when social and antisocial variables are grouping variables and biological functioning is the outcome, then the social variable invariably moderates the antisocial-biology relationship such that these relationships are strongest in those from benign home backgrounds. It is argued that further biosocial research is critical for establishing a new generation of more successful intervention and prevention research.
Article
An internal norm is a pattern of behavior enforced in part by internal sanctions, such as shame, guilt and loss of self-esteem, as opposed to purely external sanctions, such as material rewards and punishment. The ability to internalize norms is widespread among humans, although in some so-called "sociopaths", this capacity is diminished or lacking. Suppose there is one genetic locus that controls the capacity to internalize norms. This model shows that if an internal norm is fitness enhancing, then for plausible patterns of socialization, the allele for internalization of norms is evolutionarily stable. This framework can be used to model Herbert Simon's (1990) explanation of altruism, showing that altruistic norms can "hitchhike" on the general tendency of internal norms to be personally fitness-enhancing. A multi-level selection, gene-culture coevolution argument then explains why individually fitness-reducing internal norms are likely to be prosocial as opposed to socially harmful.
Shame. The exposed self
  • M Lewis
Lewis, M. (1992). Shame. The exposed self. New York: Free Press.