University of South Florida
Scholar Commons Graduate Theses and Dissertations
Effect of Empathy on Death Penalty Support in Relation to the Racial Divide and Gender Gap Brian Godcharles University of South Florida, [email protected]
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Effect of Empathy on Death Penalty Support in Relation to the Racial Divide and Gender Gap
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Criminology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida
Co-Major Professor: John K. Cochran, Ph. D. Co-Major Professor: Kathleen M. Heide, Ph. D. Eldra P. Solomon, Ph. D.
Date of Approval: November 2, 2015
Keywords: capital punishment, public opinion Copyright© 2015, Brian Godcharles
DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to my family for all of their support. This thesis is first dedicated to my wife, Cheryl Godcharles, who provided me support through my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and especially this thesis. Without her love and support, this thesis would not be possible. Secondly, this thesis is dedicated to my mother, father, brother, and sister whose guidance and instruction has made me who I am today. Finally, this thesis is dedicated to my wife’s family who has become an extension of my family; thank you for all of your help.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to acknowledge and thank my exceptional committee for their help and insight on the completion of this thesis. First, I would like to thank my co-major professors, Dr. John Cochran and Dr. Kathleen Heide, for their help developing and focusing this now completed thesis. Thank you for your countless hours of time and effort that went into helping me with this thesis. Dr. Cochran, thank you for our talks and your understanding. Both of your encouragement through this process was much appreciated. I would also like to thank my committee member, Dr. Eldra Solomon, for her time and thoughtful suggestions to improve this thesis. Dr. Solomon brought a fresh perspective and focus to this thesis which kept it on track. Her additions to this manuscript yielded interesting survey results. Additionally, I would like to thank Denise Paquette Boots, a former student of Dr. Cochran and Dr. Heide, whose previous work heavily influenced the methodology of this thesis. Without her, this thesis would not be what it is now. Finally, I would like to thank Jordyn Rad and James Hubbell, two University of South Florida undergraduate students, for continuing to test the hypothesis brought forward in this thesis. I wish you both the best of luck through your undergraduate careers and beyond!
TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Tables
List of Figures
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Literature Review Public Opinion: Why it Matters? Polling Correlates of Death Penalty Support Sociodemographic and other Correlates Race and Death Penalty Support Gender and Death Penalty Support Empathy and Death Penalty Support
4 4 5 8 8 11 15 18
Chapter Three: Empathy Defining Empathy Cognitive Empathy Affective Empathy Ethnocultural Empathy Current Study’s Definition Results of Empathy Empathy and Race Empathy and Gender
21 21 23 24 24 25 25 27 29
Chapter Four: Methods Sample and Mechanism Death Penalty Support Empathy Variables Attribution Variables Sociodemographic Variables Method of Analysis
34 34 35 36 38 40 41
Chapter Five: Results Overview
Chapter Six: Discussion Summary Conclusion
45 45 47
Appendices Appendix A: Attitudes toward Crime and Punishment Survey Appendix B: Letter of Approval from the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board Appendix C: Informed Consent
LIST OF TABLES Table 1:
Descriptive Statistics on Various Variables
Support for Capital Punishment Vs Life without Parole
Zero-Order Correlations between General Death Penalty Support and Independent Variables
Zero-Order Correlations between Race, Gender, and Independent Variables
LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1:
Are you in favor for the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?
This study aimed to examine previous empirical literature indicating that death penalty support contains a divide among Blacks and Whites and a gap among males and females. Previous literature has indicated that there has been a persistent racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support that has spanned over 60 years of research. Attempts to attenuate these divides have failed to fully explain why Whites are more likely than Blacks to support the death penalty and men are more likely than women to support the death penalty. This study proposes the use of empathy to control for these divides because research has indicated that those who are more empathic tend to be less punitive. Using data collected from a survey conducted on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a paid task website, this study attempted to attenuate the racial divide and gender gap by controlling for empathy. The sample consisted of 403 usable surveys that contained questions that measured sociodemographic characteristics, three measurements of empathy (cognitive, affective and ethnocultural), death penalty support, and attribution styles. The results indicated that there was not a racial divide or gender gap in death penalty support despite over 60 years of research indicating otherwise. Furthermore, this study failed to find a significant relationship between cognitive and affective empathy with death penalty support. This study did find a relationship between attribution styles and death penalty support as well as ethnocultural empathy with death penalty support. Individuals who scored higher on the
situational attribution style were less likely to support the death penalty. Those who scored higher on the ethnocultural empathy scale were also less likely to support the death penalty. Future research should refrain from testing with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk as was not generalizable to the United States population. Research should be continued on different samples that have been shown to be more reliable than online surveys. Finally, research should be continued beyond empathy to examine what effects other controls have on the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Current support for the death penalty, according to a 2014 Gallup poll, is at approximately 63% of persons polled; 33% oppose, and 4% have no opinion (Jones, 2014). In the over 60 years of Gallup polling, the majority of Americans have supported the death penalty. Only once, in 1966, did opposition of the death penalty outweigh the proponents in Gallup polls conducted from 1936 to 2014 (Jones, 2014). While these data show that a majority support the death penalty, research indicates that there is not a consensus of support across various social groups. The lack of consensus can be found in regards to racial and gender differences. More specifically, race and gender have been shown to persistently and strongly predict support for capital punishment. Whites are more likely to support the death penalty in comparison to Blacks (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006), and males are more likely than females to support the death penalty (Cochran & Sanders, 2009). The mean difference between Whites and Blacks has consistently been approximately twenty percentage points; while not as robust, but still significant, the mean difference between males and females has consistently been approximately twelve percentage points (Bohm, 2012; Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cochran & Sanders, 2009). Furthermore the patterns between levels of Black and White death penalty support have shown to increase and decrease in the same direction; similar results in the support levels between males and females have occurred. For example, if education affects White death penalty support, it would affect Black death penalty support in the same manner, keeping the trends parallel (Bohm, 2012). 1
The racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support is not a newly emerging issue. Bohm (2012) found that in studying the demographic characteristics of death penalty Gallup polling from 1936 to 1986 that five demographic characteristics varied substantially: race, income, gender, politics, and region. Race had the highest magnitude in variation and gender had the third highest magnitude in variation. The persistence and strength of race and gender as predictors in death penalty support show why they are important to understand. This study will attempt to understand and attenuate these variations. Attempts to account for and attenuate the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support have yet to fully explain these differences (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cochran & Sanders, 2009). Some common solutions to bridge these gaps have included socioeconomic status, subcultural orientations, political persuasion, religion, right-to-life views, attitudes support for social welfare, views on distributive justice, perceptions about criminal justice, fear of crime, victimization experience, media exposure, punitiveness, attribution styles (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cochran & Sanders, 2009), white racism/racial animus (Unnever & Cullen, 2007a; Unnever & Cullen, 2007b; Unnever & Cullen, 2010), education (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Unnever & Cullen, 2007a) as well as numerous other variables. While some of these variables and variable interactions have been able to reduce the racial divide and gender gap, none have fully been able to attenuate these divides This study is significant as it aims to answer the questions as to why there is such a divide among racial groups and gap among the sexes. Furthermore, these questions need to be answered to determine why there is not a consensus among Americans in death penalty support. The application of the death penalty is supposed to be a representation of the will of the people of the
United States; support for the death penalty should not just reside within one group. Without a consensus, the authority of this death penalty practice comes into question. This study attempts to explain the racial divide and the gender gap in death penalty support by controlling for empathy. A basic definition of empathy is the ability to understand and feel another person’s emotional state. This attempt is based on the literature that shows that those who are more empathic are less punitive as well as less likely to support the death penalty (Batson, Polycarpou, Harmon-Jones, Imhoff, Mitchener, Bednar, Klein, & Highberger, 1997; Unnever & Cullen, 2009; Unnever, Cullen & Fisher, 2005). Therefore, this study predicts that empathy will explain a significant portion of death penalty support and account for a substantially significant portion of the difference in death penalty support across race and gender. The results from this study will provide insight on how empathy affects different races as well as genders in regard to death penalty support. Additionally, empathy could be used as a new tool in vior dire in death penalty cases, thus eliminating individuals who are over- or underempathic. In vior dire, potential jurors are questioned in order to determine their eligibility to sit on a trial. Individuals who are too empathic may not be willing to sentence an individual to death, but those who are not empathic may not share the value of a life of the accused.
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Public Opinion: Why it Matters? Bohm (2012) explained that research on public opinion about the death penalty is important for five reasons and why strong public support may be a powerful basis for the continued use of the death penalty. First Bohm (2012) proposed that legislators are more inclined to vote in favor of pending death penalty legislation if they perceive broad-based public support for it. Politicians often respond to the majority vote to appease the voters. Additionally, politicians who are more conservative show that they are not soft on crime by supporting these statutes. Second, just as strong, broad-based community sentiments against the death penalty would likely give prosecutors some pause when considering whether or not to seek such a penalty, strong public support for the penalty influences prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Moreover, prosecutors, as public officials, may be worried about their careers if they believe they may be publicly critiqued by unwillingness to petition for the death penalty when community sentiments would favor otherwise (Bohm, 2012). Third, trial court judges may feel pressured to impose the death penalty perhaps even for cases that may not warrant it. Even more so, appellate court judges have been found to uphold death sentences because of the public pressure when they should have successfully been appealed (Bohm, 2012). Finally, judges who do not uphold popular opinion of death penalty sentencing have been removed from their positions and replaced (Bohm, 2012). 4
Fourth, strong public support of capital punishment may influence governors from vetoing death penalty legislation, granting pardons to capital offenders, and/or commuting death sentences to lower punishments. Prior to the 1970s, it was not uncommon for governors to commute up to one-third of death sentences (Bohm, 2012) Commutations are less common today as it is perceived that doing so will anger voters who are perceived to be pro capital punishment. According to Bohm (2012), the last and most important reason why strong death penalty support will contribute to the continued use of capital punishment is both state courts and U.S. Supreme Court will use public opinion as a measure of the “evolving standards of decency”. The evolving standards of decency is the test used by appellate judiciary to assess whether or not the death penalty constitutes an excessive and disproportional punishment banned by cruel and unusual punishment clause of the 8th Amendment. Cases such as Furman v. Georgia (1972) and Gregg v. Georgia (1976) relied on the “evolving standards of decency” presented in Trop v. Dulles (1957). Trop v. Dulles was a case in which Albert Trop was tried for deserting his post during World War Two; he was found guilty, had his citizenship revoked, and was dishonorably discharged. The Supreme Court held that revoking one’s citizenship was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment; Justice Warren stated that the Eighth Amendment “must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” (Trop, 1957). Under this foundation, if the consensus supports the death penalty, then it does not violate these evolving standards, and the punishment is constitutionally affirmed. Polling Historically, Gallop polling from 1936 to 2014 has shown that death penalty support has fluctuated throughout the past 78 years (Jones, 2014). Bohm (2012), however, found consistencies in demographic variation in Gallup polling from 1936 to 1986. He found over this
50 year span that Whites, wealthier individuals, males, Republicans, and Westerners were more likely to support the death penalty than Blacks, poorer individuals, females, Democrats, and Southerners. This section briefly describes the history of public opinion polling on support for death penalty in the United Sates. The first advanced poll for death penalty opinion was conducted by the American Institute of Public Opinion, under the direction of statistician George Gallup in 1936 and became known as the Gallup poll (Bohm, 2012). The interest in gathering information of public support for the death penalty stemmed from the large media exposure of the execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was indicted for the murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., the kidnapped and murdered son of the famed aviator. In this first public opinion poll, 59% of the population polled indicated that they were in favor of the death penalty, 38% were opposed, and 3% had no opinion (Saad, 2013). An important thing to note is how the polling questions have changed in their wording over time. Gallup polling from 1936 and 1937 asked survey-takers “Are you in favor of the death penalty for murder?” (Melusky & Pesto, p. 347, 2003). While the basis of this measurement is to determine if the individual supports the death penalty on a general level, the question fails to ascertain what type of murder and the details of the crime. Slight differences occurred in wording of Gallup polls from 1953 to 1972: “Are you in favor of the death penalty for persons [or “a person”] convicted of murder?” (Melusky & Pesto, p. 347, 2003). While this wording does not stray too far from the original 1936 wording, it highlighted that the individual was convicted; this further specifies to what extent a person is in favor of capital punishment. Some death penalty opinion polls, such as questions asked in the General Social Survey ask “Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons [or “people”] convicted of murder?” (Melusky
& Pesto, p. 347, 2003). Bohm (2012, p.325) commented on the differences in question wording and stated that these differences in wording are likely to have minimal effects, but that available answer choice options can be influential on the outcomes. For example, the earlier Gallop polls asked in general whether an individual was in favor or not in favor of the death penalty. Whereas the latest 2014 Gallup poll asked participants “Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?” The results of this poll showed that 63% favor the death penalty in this situation, 33% oppose it and 4% have no opinion (Jones, 2014). These differences in wording can create an overall level of support for the death penalty in general or a specific level of support focusing on individuals who are convicted of murder. When given the option of life without parole or the death penalty for convicted murders in a poll conducted in 2014, support for the death penalty dropped in favor of life without parole. Support for the death penalty had been 61% supporting and 35% opposing. After life without parole was introduced, 42% favored the death penalty and 52% favored life without parole (Ergun, 2014). Results from death penalty opinion polls have fluctuated in the 78 years from the conception of the Gallop poll. Bohm (2012) noted that death penalty support has created a “v” shape in its plotted format (see Figure 1.). He explains that the left tip of the “v” represents the death penalty support in 1936 and the base of the “v” represents 42% support in 1966, which was the only time that opposition exceeded support. Furthermore, death penalty support increased from this point. The late 1980s and early 1990s brought one of the highest levels of support for capital punishment. In 1994, a Gallop poll recorded 80% of people in favor of the death penalty (Gallup, 2013); this was the largest percentage of support in opinion poll history. Support for the death penalty continues to fluctuate with respect to the time period and region of the country; for example, Westerners support the death penalty more than Southerners (Bohm, 2012).
Correlates of Death Penalty Support Death penalty opinion polls have also measured and continue to measure various sociodemographic and other potential correlates and causes of death penalty support. These variables provide an insightful look at which social categories tend to support capital punishment and which tend to oppose. These correlates are important to determine the level of consensus among groups. Heavy focus has been placed on gender and race as these variables are two of the strongest predictors of death penalty support. This section discusses the variables that have shown a significant influence on death penalty support. This section also pays particular attention to the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support. Finally, this section examines the attempts of past research to close the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support and purposes an examination of empathy as an alternative means to account for the observed racial and gender differences in death penalty support. Sociodemographic and other Correlates Public opinion polls since 1936 have shown that the majority of participants in all demographic groups support capital punishment with the exception of Blacks (Bohm, 2012). Despite majority levels of support within all social categories other than Blacks, there are still significant variations in levels of support across these social categories. Through his analysis of Gallup polls from 1936-1986, Bohm (2012) found that race, income (SES), gender, politics, and region of the country had the greatest magnitude of variation. Among these groups, Whites, males, higher income individuals, Republicans, and Westerners supported death penalty more than Blacks, females, lower income individuals, Democrats, and Southerners. For example the variation between Blacks and Whites has been reported as a mean difference around twenty percentage points in a number of Gallup polls (Bohm, 2012). While certain demographic data
were not available in all of the polls, the 1986 poll showed that persons under the age of 30, manual laborers, college graduates, Easterners, and Southerners were less supportive of the death penalty than sales and clerical workers, high school graduates, Westerners, and Midwesterners (Bohm, 2012). A Gallup poll conducted in 2014 found that the majority of individuals who identify with the Republican, Democratic, and Independent party support the death penalty (Jones, 2014). Additionally, a 2012 Gallup poll measured support among educational groups; all groups including no college, some college, college graduate only, and post-graduate level indicated a majority support of the death penalty. Interestingly, there was not a large variation in the 2012 Gallup poll in regards to death penalty support among regions (Saad, 2013). Political ideology has been found to correlate with death penalty support. Gallup poll data from 2001 to 2004 found that conservatives showed greater support for the death penalty than moderates and liberals (Carroll, 2004). Further data from a 2012 poll showed that 75% of conservatives supported the death penalty in comparison to 60% of moderates and 47% of liberals. Polls that have measured political ideology found that it is an important distinguishing variable between proponents and opponents of the death penalty (Bohm, 2012). Throughout available polling data, religious differences between Catholics and Protestants in their levels of death penalty support have been minimal (Acker, Bohm & Lanier, 2014). Currently, however, Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to support the death penalty including those with no religious affiliation (Acker et al., 2014; Bohm, 2012). Grasmick, Cochran, Bursik and Kimpel (1993) found that among Protestants, “evangelical/fundamentalist” Protestants were more supportive of the death penalty than “liberal/moderate” Protestants. Additionally, individuals who believe in a punishing, wrathful
God are more likely to support the death penalty than those who believe in forgiving, loving God (Unnever, Cullen & Bartkowski, 2006). Fear of victimization has also been linked to death penalty support. An increase in fear of victimization is associated with an increase in death penalty support (Thomas & Foster, 1973; Thomas & Howard, 1977). Thomas and Foster (1973) found that fear of victimization led to an increase in support of willingness to exact punishment for other crimes as well. In a similar context, Borg (1998) found that individuals who knew someone who was a homicide victim were more likely to support the death penalty; this support, however varied among Blacks and Whites, with Whites being more supportive than Blacks. Attribution theory has been studied as a source of correlates of death penalty support. Heider’s (1958) attribution theory created a theoretical framework in which persons justify actions of others through “naïve” psychology; human behavior is a result of dispositional or situational attribution styles. Dispositional attribution styles explain that human behavior is a result of internal personal characteristics whereas situational attribution styles explain environmental factors are the cause of the behavior. Dispositional attributions towards criminal behavior generate more blameworthiness and deservedness of punishment for the criminal than those with situation attribution styles (Carroll, 1978; Carroll & Payne, 1977; Carroll, Perkowitz, Lurigio, & Weaver, 1987; Cullen, Clark, Cullen, & Mathers, 1985; Graham, Weiner, & Zucker, 1997: Grasmick & McGill, 1994; Hawkins, 1981; Lurigio, Carroll, & Stalans, 1994; Shaver, 1975; Stinchcombe, Adams, Heimer, Scheppele, Smith, & Taylor, 1980; Young, 1991). Furthermore, people who have dispositional attribution styles are more inclined to support the death penalty (Cochran, Boots & Heide, 2003; Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cullen, Clark, Cullen & Mathers, 1985; Grasmick, Bursik, & Blackwell, 1993; Grasmick, Bursik, & Kimpel, 1991;
Grasmick, Cochran, Bursik, & Kimpel, 1993; Grasmick, Davenport, Chamlin, & Bursik, 1992; Grasmick & McGill, 1994; Young, 1991). A death penalty support study for special offender populations of juveniles, the mentally ill, and the mentally retarded found that support was highly correlated to the type of attribution style associated with the respondent (Cochran, Boots, & Heide, 2003). This is an important finding, because demographic variables as noted in the previous section are not the only significant predictors of death penalty support. An additional study conducted by Cochran, Boots, & Chamlin (2006) found that attribution style “fully mediate[d] the effects of political ideology on support for both the adult and juvenile death penalty” (p.70). There are various correlates of death penalty support including political ideology, political party, region of the country, attribution style, fear of victimization, and religion. These correlates, however, are not as strong predictors as race is in regards to death penalty support. The following section describes the racial divide in death penalty support and attempts to bridge this divide as well as its possible causes. Race and Death Penalty Support Although the majority of the United States population supports the death penalty, there is a persistent racial divide in death penalty support that has consistently been documented across the years of opinion poll research (Bohm 2012). Bohm (2012), for instance, found in 50 years of Gallop polling, from 1936 to 1986, that death penalty support among Blacks and Whites contained a substantial variation among the two groups. For example, a Gallup poll from 2007 found that 70% of Whites supported the death penalty compared to 40% of Blacks (Saad, 2007). The research has shown that Whites are more likely than Blacks to support capital punishment and that race is one of the strongest predictors of support (Bohm, 2012; Cochran & Chamlin,
2006; Unnever & Cullen, 2007b). The mean difference in death penalty support among Blacks and Whites is twenty percentage points across numerous Gallop polls (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006). Attempts have been made to account for this racial divide, but none have been fully successful. The importance of explaining this divide rests in the fact that death penalty support should be a consensus of the American people, rather than a simple majority of the people. One basis provided to account for the divide between White and Black support of the death penalty has been attributed to racial prejudice and/or racial animus (hostility), specifically among Whites ( Young, 2004; Unnever & Cullen, 2007b; Unnever & Cullen, 2010; Unnever, Cullen, & Jonson, 2008). Unnever and Cullen (2007b) found that Whites who hold racial prejudice or racial animus towards Blacks were more inclined to support the death penalty. Racial animus was able to account for more than a one-third proportion of the observed racial divide. While these data significantly explained a large portion of the racial divide in death penalty support, the results failed to fully explain the other two-thirds. Unnever et al. (2008) explained that White racism and its relation to death penalty support is likely based on the social threat by other racial and ethnic groups. Young (2004) not only found that Whites who are racially prejudiced were more likely to support the death penalty, but also found that Whites who are racially prejudiced preferred convicting the innocent over letting a guilty person go free in capital cases. Buckler, Davila and Salinas’s (2008) study reassessed Unnever and Cullen’s (2007b) attempt to account for the racial divide by controlling for racial prejudice. In their study, Buckler et al. (2008) examined whether accounting for racist sentiment and other core values (individualism, egalitarianism, symbolic patriotism, and authoritarianism) could further reduce the divide. Their findings were consistent with Unnever and Cullen’s (2007b) work in that racial
prejudice accounted for a portion of the racial divide, but not all nor even most of it. Buckler et al.’s. (2008) investigation also found that the core values of individualism, symbolic patriotism, and authoritarianism had a larger impact on Whites for support of the death penalty than it did for Blacks. Maggard, Payne and Chappell (2012) showed that nonwhites were less likely to support the death penalty and more likely to perceive that the application of the death penalty is racially biased. In an effort to attenuate the racial divide, Cochran and Chamlin (2006) tested eleven potential explanations. These included racial differences in socioeconomic status, subculture, political ideology, religious orientation, right-to-life positions, social welfare and governmental spending priorities. Additionally they measured racial differences in prejudice, discrimination and racial differences in beliefs about racial equality in experiences with criminal justice system, fear of crime and victimization experience, punitiveness and other justice attitudes, and attribution styles (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006). They found that there was not only a racial divide among Blacks and Whites, as supported by previous literature, but that there was also an ethnic divide between Hispanics and Whites in their levels of support for the death penalty. Importantly, none of the eleven explanations were able to successfully account for these divides. However, Cochran & Chamlin’s (2006) work acknowledged the need to have the Hispanic ethnicity in death penalty support researched as they are greatly represented in the United States population. The research on the racial divide among Blacks and Whites has mostly focused on why Whites have supported and continue to support the death penalty rather than why Blacks have lower support than Whites (Unnever & Cullen, 2007a). Unnever and Cullen (2007a) proposed that the racial divide in death penalty support may be due to the history of racist lynchings and
unfair application of the death penalty to African Americans. Unnever and Cullen (2007a) examined this racial divide using data from the General Social Survey. The results of this study showed that African Americans were less likely to support the death penalty in comparison to Whites. After controlling for the variables of income, confidence in government, conservative politics, and religious fundamentalism, these variables still failed to close the gap in death penalty support. Interestingly, income and confidence in the government increased death penalty support among Blacks, but it was not to a large extent (Unnever & Cullen, 2007a). According to a poll conducted in 2013 by the Pew Research Center, around 50% of Hispanic survey-takers opposed the death penalty with 40% supporting it (Pew Research Center, 2014). This finding is significant because as of July 2013, Hispanics represented 17% of the United States population according to U.S. Census Bureau, making them the largest racial minority in the United States. Projections are that by 2060, they will constitute 31% of the population of the United States (Hispanic, 2014). Cochran and Chamlin (2006) found a substantial divide in death penalty support among Whites and Blacks as well as among Whites and Hispanics with Whites most supportive, then Hispanics followed by Blacks in level of support. In an effort to measure death penalty support from minorities, Mallicoat and Brown (2008) created a survey in which data from Hispanic, White, and even Asian American volunteers would be collected. They stated that data on Asian American death penalty support is almost non-existent, citing one poll from a county in Texas that included demographics. Mallicoat and Brown (2008) found that political party identification, religious identity and criminal justice education influenced death penalty support for White volunteers; they also found that political party identification and religious identity affected Hispanic volunteers. Most notably, is that none of the demographic variables affected death penalty support in Asian
Americans. Their findings indicated that Whites were most supportive followed by Asian Americans and then Hispanics. In sum, race plays a significant role in support for the death penalty. Research has shown that there exists a substantial divide among Blacks and Whites as well as between Hispanics and Whites in their support for capital punishment. However, “no research [has been] able to successfully account for the basis of this persistent racial divide in death penalty support” (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006, p.96-97). Attempts have been made to attenuate this divide ranging from controlling for racial prejudice (Unnever & Cullen, 2007a; Unnever & Cullen, 2007b; Unnever et al., 2008) to controlling for a plethora of sociodemographic variables (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006). Gender and Death Penalty Support A gender gap has also been consistently observed in death penalty support for over 50 years with men supporting the death penalty more so than women (Cochran & Sanders, 2009). According to a Gallup poll conducted in December 2012, 67% of men supported the death penalty while only 59% of women supported the death penalty (Gallup, 2013), a difference of 12 percentage points. This 12 percentage point difference in death penalty support between males and females has remained relatively stable (Cochran & Sanders, 2009). Some have tried to account for the gap between males and females in capital punishment support by controlling for the effects of sociodemographic variables. Cochran and Sanders (2009) attempted to explain the gender gap through a vast amount of sources, using thirty years’ worth of files from the National Opinion research Center General Social Surveys. They found that the gender support gap could not be attenuated by: …differences in value orientations or gender socializations; this gender gap could not be
explained by traditional versus feminist gender norms and gender roles; the gap could not be explained by status differences between males and females nor by gender inequality; the gender gap could not be accounted for by gender differences in offending, victimization, fear of crime, nor negative experience with the criminal justice system; finally, the gender gap… could not be explained by respondents’ class consciousness/belief in American meritocracy. (p. 532) Cochran and Sander’s (2009) work yielded minimal results in explaining the gender gap in death penalty support; however, their work encourages further research into bridging this gap through alternative measures. One attempt to determine the cause of this gap was the examination of attribution theory and support for capital punishment. Attribution theory, first introduced by Heider (1958) is the idea that individuals attempt to justify actions of other individuals through “naïve” psychology. Boots and Cochran (2011) employed attribution theory with differential gender socialization theory derived from the work of Gilligan (1982) in an effort to account for this gender gap in death penalty support. They conducted a factorial survey design and found that attribution theory failed to attenuate the gender gap. Gilligan’s (1982) “ethic of care” hypothesis which places women in a compassionate merciful demeanor helps to explain one reason why the gender gap in capital punishment may exist (Lambert, Clarke, Tucker-Gail, & Hogan, 2009); women may be more likely to have mercy on those convicted. Boots and Cochran’s (2011) results indicated that dispositional attribution style was a significant predictor of death penalty support, but that situational attribution style was ineffective at predicting support, creating mixed results for attribution styles as correlates of the death penalty. Lambert et al. (2009) supported this claim in a study they conducted that measured death penalty support between male and female college
students. The findings of that study showed that women were much less likely to support the death penalty in comparison to men. While these results were expected, specific differences in reasons for supporting the death penalty provided further insight. “Men were more likely to agree with retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation items, while women were more likely to agree [with] the morality, unfair administration, brutalization and innocence items” (p.252). In an attempt to study gender and death penalty support, Lambert, Jiang, Elechi, Khondaker, Baker, and Jin (2014) conducted a study comparing gender differences among students in the United States, China, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. This study used surveys to elicit opinions of the death penalty. Lambert et al.’s. (2014) study found that consistent with previous research, women in the United States were less supportive of the death penalty than men. More interestingly, they found that in the nations of China, Bangladesh, and Nigeria there was no difference between genders in support for capital punishment. None of these countries, however, were more or less supportive of capital punishment in comparison to the United States; only the United States poll was generalizable to the general population, the other countries did not have a general poll to compare. They further speculated the cause of these differences among the United States and these nations was due to differences from Western values. While most research conducted on gender related support of capital punishment compares samples of men and women, Stack (2000) attempted to study death penalty support in a gender-specific model restricted to only women. This study used national data from the 1990 General Social Survey, containing both men and women, in which death penalty support was measured against three variables including symbolic orientations, crime salience, and demographic controls. The results of this study showed that political conservatism affected capital punishment support in both men and women. This study, however, failed to find
evidence that a gender specific model was better than a traditional model when measuring death penalty support between the genders. A gender gap of approximately 12% points in death penalty support has remained persistent for over 50 years in the United States (Bohm, 2012). Attempts to explain this gap have identified correlates that reduce but do not fully account for this gap (Cochran & Sanders, 2009) with several theoretical explanations for this gap being proposed including Gilligan’s “ethic of care” hypothesis (Boots & Cochran, 2011; Lambert et al., 2009), and Heider’s (1958) attribution theory. In sum the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support are persistent despite numerous attempts to account for them. The substantial difference between Black and White and males and females and the failure of past attempts to account for them calls for renewed efforts to address them. This study proposes to attenuate these gaps by examining the influence of empathy. This study proposes that empathy may be a key explanatory correlate of death penalty support and that racial and gender differences in empathy may attenuate the observed difference in death penalty support between Blacks and Whites and between males and females. Empathy and Death Penalty Support This sub-section analyzes the previous literature on death penalty support and its relation to empathy. This section also analyzes the relationships between empathy and race, and empathy and gender. Finally, this section makes a case for why and how empathy should explain the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support. In the field of criminological research, empathy has largely been ignored (Posick, Rocque, & Rafter, 2012; Unnever et al., 2005; Unnever & Cullen, 2009). Even more limited is the literature on the effect of empathy on death penalty support.
Unnever et al., (2005) predicted that empathic individuals would oppose the death penalty for two reasons. The first reason they proposed was empathic individuals will have the morals to not harm others and see the death penalty as violating those morals. Secondly, they proposed the idea that empathic persons would not have attitudes that support capital punishment such as racial prejudice and political conservatism. Unnever et al. (2005) utilized secondary data from the 2002 General Social Survey and measured death penalty support, racial and ethnic intolerance, and empathy, as well as political conservatism. The results of this study supported their predictions; empathic Americans are less likely to support capital punishment. Unnever et al. (2005) also found that “empathetic Americans are more likely to be politically liberal, which in turn, negatively predicts support for the death penalty” (p. 22). Additional findings indicated that individuals who were more empathic also harbored less racial and ethnic intolerance, which has also been found to be associated with a decrease in death penalty support. In an attempt to study punitiveness, Unnever and Cullen (2009) proposed a theoretical model to explain differences in individual punitive attitudes. These attitudes include support for the death penalty, support for increased punishment for corporate fraud, and support for “threestrikes-and-you’re-out” statutes. They created a construct known as empathetic identification, “the capacity to experience empathy not for “everybody” but in reference to certain types of offenders…” (p. 284-285). After analyzing literature regarding empathy and punitiveness, they found that individuals are less punitive if they can empathetically identify with offenders. This is due to the level of punitiveneess of society in which criminals are vilified and dehumanized. With regards to capital punishment, if individuals can empathize with individuals who have been sentenced to death or executed, then they are less likely to support capital
punishment due to the fact that “criminals” may be recognized as humans (Unnever & Cullen, 2009). Additional research has suggested that empathy is related to punitiveness (Batson, Polycarpou, Harmon-Jones, Imhoff, Mitchener, Bednar, Klein, & Highberger, 1997). Batson et al. (1997) explored empathy in a study in which volunteers heard a firsthand story about a murder. Volunteers were either asked to imagine the perpetrators feelings during the act or to remain objective. The results yielded limited effects for inducing empathy for convicted murderers, but a clear effect was established one to two weeks later when similar empathy questions were measured via telephone survey. The results of the survey showed that empathy was induced in the one to two week later interval rather than immediately. Batson et al. (1997) explains that empathy was induced at the later time because the participants were not expecting a follow-up and were thus not prepared to resist empathy inducing feelings. A study conducted by Worthen, Sharp, and Rodgers (2012) examined the relationship between homosexual men and women, empathy and support for the death penalty. They found, similar to Unnever et al. (2005), that individuals who were more empathic were less likely to support capital punishment. Worthen et al.’s (2012) study demonstrated that homosexual men were less likely to support the death penalty than heterosexual men. They further speculated that this was due to homosexual men being able to relate more to other minority groups. Interestingly, homosexual women were not less likely to support the death penalty in relation to heterosexual women.
CHAPTER THREE EMPATHY Defining Empathy There are multiple definitions of empathy available in the extant literature and these rival definitions have been debated over time. Batson (2009) explained that there have been eight distinct concepts that have been used to define empathy in previous literature. The first concept of empathy is knowing another person’s internal state (Preston & de Waal, 2002; Wispé, 1986) which has also been defined as “cognitive empathy” (Eslinger, 1998; Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992) and “empathic accuracy” (Ickes, 1993). The second concept is adopting the posture or expression of another observed individual; this has also been labeled imitation (Lipps, 1903; Meltzoff & Moore, 1997; Titchener, 1909), facial empathy (Gordan, 1995) and motor mimicry (Dimberg, Thunberg, & Elmehed, 2000; Hoffman, 2000). The third concept is coming to feel the same emotion as another individual feels; Batson (2009) states that is a common dictionary definition, but that it has also been used by philosophers (Darwall, 1998; Sober & Wilson, 1998), neuroscientists (Damasio, 2003; Decety & Chaminade, 2003; Eslinger, 1998), and psychologists (Eisenberg & Strayer, 1987; Preston & de Waal, 2002). Furthermore, some philosophers debate whether or not this is more sympathy than empathy (Hume, 1740/1896; Smith 1759/1853) and some psychologists identified this as “emotional contagion” (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994), “affective empathy” (Zahn-Waxler, Robinson, & Emde, 1992) or “automatic emotional empathy” (Hodges & Wegner, 1997).
Batson’s (2009) fourth concept is the idea of intuiting or projecting oneself into another individual’s situation. For example, one might ask themselves what it would be like to lose a parent, when their friend had just lost theirs. This idea of empathy came from Titchener (1909) who translated it into English from the German word Einfühlung (Zoll & Enz, 2005). Einfühlung was first used by Vischer (1873) in describing the experience of a viewer’s active participation in a work of art or other visual entity; Theodor Lipps furthered the Einfühlung concept into the mainstream psychological world (Nowak, 2011). The fifth concept is imagining how another individual is thinking and feeling. This concept of empathy has also been called an “imagine other” perspective (Batson, 1991), and “perspective taking” (Ruby & Decety, 2004). Concept six is imagining how an individual would think and feel if they were placed in another individual’s circumstance. This type of concept has been labeled “role taking” and “empathy” by Mead (1934), “cognitive empathy” (Povinelli, 1993), “projective empathy” or “simulation” (Darwall, 1998) and the “imagine-self” perspective. Batson (2009) states that concept six is similar to concept four, but that these concepts were developed for different purposes, one aesthetic and the other interpersonal. Batson’s (2009) seventh concept of empathy is the idea of feeling distressed at witnessing another individual’s suffering. This concept has been labeled a variety of things including “empathy” (Krebs, 1975), “personal distress” (Batson, 1991), and “empathic distress” (Hoffman, 1981). Additionally, Batson (2009) clarifies that this concept is not distress “for” the other or “as” the other, but distress experienced due to the state of that individual. Finally, concept eight is feeling for another individual who is suffering. Batson (1991) identifies this as an other-oriented response; a response that is felt for the other individual. Batson (2009) notes that these ideas have also been labeled as “pity” or “compassion” (Hume, 1740/1896; Smith, 1759/1853), “sympathy” (Darwall, 1998; Eisenberg & Strayer, 1987; Preston
& de Waal, 2002; Sober & Wilson, 1998; Wispé, 1986), and “sympathic distress” (Hoffman, 1981, 2000). Batson (2009) demonstrates that the use of the term empathy has no regulation in its definition and has been used in multiple scientific fields with a complexity that creates dissonance in its true meaning. While definitional issues continue to plague empathy, there is an agreement among researchers on the two types of empathy: cognitive and affective. Additionally, a specific sub-set of empathy, called ethnocultural empathy is in development to measure empathy across racial and ethnic barriers (Wang, Davidson, Yakushko, Savoy & Bleier, 2003). Cognitive Empathy Hogan’s (1969) empathy scale defined empathy as “the intellectual or imaginative apprehension of another’s condition or state of mind without actually experiencing that person’s feelings” (p. 380).
Hogan’s approach is considered the cognitive measure of empathy (Caruso
& Mayer, 1998). Zoll and Enz (2005) explain that cognitive empathy “grasps different cognitive processes within the observer ranging from relatively simple associative processes over learning mechanisms to the point of explicitly taking over someone else’s perspective” (Zoll & Enz, 2005, p.165). “Cognitive empathy requires that information is held in mind and manipulated. Visual, auditory, or situational cues are used to represent another person’s cognitive and emotional state” (Reniers, Corcoran, Drake, Shryane, & Vӧllm, 2011, p. 85). Reniers et al. (2011) further explain that once various ideas are created about another person’s cognitive or emotional state, one’s own cognitive and emotional state can be compared, contrasted and aligned with the other person. This information is constantly updated and altered as new cognitive and emotional empathy details emerge.
Affective Empathy Another empathy scale was developed by Mehrabian and Epstein (1972); the purpose of Mehrabian and Epstein’s scale was to measure emotional (affective) empathy. They defined empathy as “the heightened responsiveness to another’s emotional experience” (Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972, p. 526). “Affective empathy relates to the process where emotions in the observer emerge due to the (conscious or unconscious) perception of internal states in a target (either emotions or thoughts and attitudes)” (Zoll & Enz, 2005, p.166). “Affective empathy … involves a swift recognition of the other person’s emotions on the basis of facial expressions, body gestures, and voice prosody” (Reniers et al., 2011, p. 85). Furthermore Reniers et al. (2011) describe that these facial and bodily features elicit an emotional response to the other’s situation that affect one’s own corresponding emotional state. Ethnocultural Empathy Ethnocultural empathy was first introduced by Wang et al. (2003) in their scale of ethnocultural empathy (SEE); it was created by combining general and cultural specific empathy. The purpose of ethnocultural empathy is to measure empathy channeled at races and ethnic groups other than one’s own. Wang et al.’s scale is divided into four components: empathic feeling and expression, empathic perspective taking, acceptance of cultural differences and empathic awareness. The component empathic feeling and expression relate to the affective form of empathy, while the empathic perspective taking relate to the cognitive form of empathy. Acceptance of cultural differences and empathic awareness relate to the acceptance and understanding of cultural differences. While cognitive and affective empathy have been widely used in definitions of empathy, ethnocultural empathy is emerging as a way to measure previously unmeasured dimensions. The
literature identifying this latter sub-empathy provides information on how far empathy can affect one’s racial sentiments. The purpose for adding this subsection of empathy is to account for racial animus in relation to death penalty support as seen in work done by Unnever and Cullen (2007a), Unnever and Cullen (2007b), and Unnever, Cullen, and Fisher (2005). Current Study’s Definition Definitional issues surrounding empathy persist. Those who study empathy however, agree on the distinction between affective (emotional) and cognitive empathy (Davis, 1983; Lamm, Batson, & Decety, 2007; Reniers et al., 2011). Additionally, Wang et al.’s (2003) scale of ethnocultural empathy utilizes this distinction between affective and cognitive empathy and puts it into an ethnocultural framework in their scale. The definitional agreement among the two types of empathy creates consistency among the empathy measures used. This study utilized Reniers et al.’s (2011) definition’s of cognitive and affective empathy. They defined cognitive empathy as “the ability to construct a working model of the emotional states of others” and affective empathy as “the ability to be sensitive to and vicariously experience the feelings of others” (Reniers et al., 2011, p. 85). These definitions were developed from previous research that either lacked precision or failed to account for both the cognitive and affective measures needed in a multidimensional empathy scale. These definitions are utilized to measure empathy; the measurements are adapted from Reniers et al.’s (2011) Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy (QCAE) as well as Wang et al.’s (2003) Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE). Results of Empathy Empathy is key in social interactions; individuals with more empathic abilities are better able to relate and foster relationships. Lack of empathy in individuals has correlations to many
negative outcomes; one of these outcomes includes psychopathy. “Primary psychopathy is associated with emotional dysfunction … and is predicted to show a strong negative relationship with empathic behavior (Reniers et al., 2011).” According to Reniers et al. (2011), empathic dysfunction also is associated with antisocial personality disorder, acquired sociopathy, disorders of the autism spectrum, and schizophrenia. Criminality has also been linked to a lack of empathy (Reniers et al., 2011, Unnever et al., 2005) In order to achieve empathy, certain characteristics must be achieved. For example, in cognitive empathy, individuals must pay attention to a target person and be able to read their expressed signals as well as use context clues in order to understand reactions of that person. This process of cognitive empathy relies heavily on knowledge of emotional expression and previous experience (Zoll & Enz, 2005). Affective empathy on the other hand, has the possibility of being a reaction of cognitive empathy but also can be expressed through a direct transfer of emotional states known as emotional contagion (Zoll & Enz, 2005). Some positive outcomes of empathy are a “host of prosocial behaviors, including forgiveness, comforting, helping, instrumental assistance, and verbal sympathy (Unnever & Cullen, 2009, p. 286). Baron-Cohen (2011) created his own empathy quotient for adults and described the different levels of empathy and the outcomes of each level. His scale is measured from 0 to 6, with 0 being no empathy whatsoever and 6 being remarkably empathic. According to Baron-Cohen (2011), individuals who measure a level 0 are capable of committing crimes such as murder, rape and torture, as these people do not feel remorse or guilt. He explains that individuals who rank at level 1 are capable of hurting others but are also able to reflect on their actions. Persons who rank at level 2 are able to empathize when they are directly and specifically told of what their actions have done to someone’s emotions. Empathy levels 3, 4,
and 5 progress towards more empathy with persons at a level 6 being hypersensitive to the emotions of others. Baron-Cohen’s (2011) empathy quotient is based on the bell curve with most individuals grouping at level 3. Evidence has suggested that empathy may be more than a learned process. Posick, Rocque and Rafter (2012) explain that empathy may have evolved for the purposes of mating and survival. Additional research in an adult twin study conducted by Rushton, Fulker, Neale, Blizard, and Eysenck (1984) found evidence that part of empathy was inherited. They also explained that environmental cues affected the level of empathy in individuals. Empathy and Race There is little research on whether some races are able to empathize more effectively than other races. More empathy among certain races than others may not necessarily be indicative of a more evolved people, but more of a cultural construct. While it is known that females are more empathic than males, it is not known if Blacks are more empathic than Whites, or vice versa. The literature on race and empathy primarily consists of one race having less empathy for another race in comparison to their own. Johnson, Simmons, Jordan, MacLean, Taddei, Thomas, Dovidio and Reed’s (2002) study found that people of the same group, in this case racial group, are more likely to empathize with each other than with individuals outside the group. In the study, white individuals were given a situation where a black or white defendant committed a robbery; each case had different levels of mitigating factors to help induce empathy. The study found that Whites were more likely to empathize with a white defendant and give a white defendant a more lenient sentencing. Similarly, when an individual is racially and/or ethnically intolerant, they tend to be less empathic than those who are not intolerant (Unnever et al., 2005).
In the medical community, differences have been found among races in regards to empathy. Chiao and Mathur (2010) published the idea that “empathic neural response is heightened for members of the same race, but not those of other races” (p. R479). Chiao and Mathur (2010) support this claim with several research studies. One of the studies conducted by Xu, Zuo, Wang, and Han (2009) measured specific brain activity of volunteers via functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Volunteers were asked to indicate whether an individual in a short film was feeling pain by either being prodded with a needle or a q-tip. Results from this study found that when the volunteers saw the painful stimulation of said individual, activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the frontal/insula cortex increased. These areas of the brain are activated in first-hand pain experience. More importantly, volunteers who were Caucasian showed a decrease in activation of these brain areas when witnessing Chinese individuals who received pain in the film as compared to Caucasian individuals in the film. Chinese brain area activity was identical to same race and Caucasian race response (Xu, Zuo, Wang, & Han, 2009). Another study used to support the claim that individuals are more likely to empathize with others of their same race was conducted by Mathur, Harada, Lipke, and Chiao (2010) in which similar neural activity was measured after volunteers watched a film of an African American or Caucasian American experiencing a painful or a neutral situation. This study showed that both African American and Caucasian American volunteers had activated the anterior cingulate cortex and the bilateral insula when pain was administered to individuals in the film. Watching pain in each volunteer’s respective racial group correlated with a higher activation in these areas than members of another racial group. However, African Americans who experienced greater activation of these neural zones previously mentioned when seeing pain inflicted in others of the same racial group also showed activation in the medial prefrontal cortex.
These neural activations among African Americans are associated with extraordinary empathy and altruistic motivation for members of their racial group but not for other racial groups (Mathur, Harada, Lipke, & Chiao, 2010). A study conducted by Neumann, Boyle, and Chan (2013) utilized Caucasian and Asian volunteers who watched images of both Caucasian and Asian individuals in negative or positive situation. Volunteers were asked to rank each picture using a Likert scale format. The results of the study were consistent with previous studies; volunteers showed more empathy for individuals that were the same race as them. Interestingly, this bias was only found in circumstances where individuals in the image were in a negative situation (Neumann, Boyle, and Chan, 2013). “[Additional]… findings indicate that the racial intergroup relationship modulates the activity in the key nodes of the neural network that mediate both the cognitive and affective components of empathy for pain” (Sheng, Liu, Li, Fang & Han, 2014, p. 269). In other words, being from the same race increases the level of empathy in regards to that person’s pain. The research has shown that persons empathize better with individuals within their ethnicity or racial group than with individuals from another racial group. This has been proven within the social fields (Johnson et al., 2002) as well as the medical field (Sheng et al., 2014). However, what is missing in the research is whether one racial group is capable of more empathy than another race; in other words, are Blacks more empathic than Whites or vice versa? Empathy and Gender Individuals who are more empathic have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Studies have shown that females are more empathic than their male counterparts (Caruso & Mayer, 1998; Reniers et al., 2011). Females’ higher empathy levels even cross into specialized empathy such as ethnocultural empathy (Wang, Davidson, Yakushko, Savoy &
Bleier, 2003). Self-report empathy measurements have corroborated findings previously mentioned of empathy differences among gender (Schulte-Rüther, Markowitsch, Shah, Fink, & Piefke, 2008). Notably, Silfver and Helkama (2007) found through the literature that women scored higher than men on self-reported measures of empathy, guilt, and shame; these gender differences in empathy, guilt, and shame were consistent from the adolescent age and upwards. Additional findings have shown that women consistently display more complexity and differentiation in their articulation of emotional experiences then men (Barrett, Lane, Sechrest, & Schwartz, 2000). Similarly, Silfver and Helkama (2007) reported that girls were “more willing to describe themselves as emotional and express emotions in writing” (p. 244). This suggests that women are not only more empathic than men, but also express their empathy more outward than men. Empathy level has been found to be influenced by age depending on gender (Silfver & Helkama, 2007; Pascual-Sagastizabal, Azurmendi, Sánchez-Martin, Braza, Carreras, Muñoz, & Braza, 2013). Boys show less empathy than girls in the same age range, and this disparity continues to increase with age (Pasqual-Sagastizabal et al., 2013). Silfver and Helkama (2007) found that with age, empathy increases in females and decreases in males; they posited the idea that this is because girls are developing into a gender role of an emotional nurturer. While women are found to be more empathic, the ways in which men and women empathize are very different. According to Christov-Moore, Simpson, Coudé, Grigaityte, Lacoboni, and Ferrari (2014), men have more control in expressing empathy than females, while females are more indiscriminately empathic. Men are more empathic towards females and those who they perceive as deserving of help (Christov-Moore et al., 2014). Rueckert and Naybar (2008) also found that women exhibit more empathy than men towards enemies or competitors.
Van Honk, Schutter, Bos, Kruijt, Lentjes, & Baron-Cohen (2011) asserted that females outperform males in tests of cognitive empathy, but that administration of testosterone to females’ results in a down-regulation of social intelligence. Similarly, a study conducted by Hermans, Putnam, and van Honk (2006) in which women between the ages of 19 and 31 were given a dose of testosterone demonstrated that the testosterone lessened the mimicry of emotional facial expressions, which has been used as one measure of empathy (PasqualSagastizabal et al., 2013). Prenatal testosterone levels were also found to have an influence on empathy later in the child’s life; in particular, a study conducted by Knickmeyer, Baron-Cohen, Raggatt, Taylor, and Hackett (2006) showed that there was a significant relationship between prenatal testosterone levels and empathy related behaviors in normal children at the age of four. Chapman, Baron-Cohen, Auyeung, Knickmeyer, Hackett, and Taylor (2006) found that fetal testosterone levels that were high in amniotic fluid measurement had a correlation with lower Child Empathizing Quotient scores in those individuals later in life. Thus, the level of empathy in individuals may be correlated with the level of testosterone hormone present in the individual, with lower levels of testosterone associated with more empathy than higher levels. In the psychiatric realm, measurements of empathy have association with several disorders (Schulte-Rüther et al., 2008; Pasqual-Sagastizabel et al., 2013). Males are more likely to have disorders like autism spectrum disorder, conduct disorder, and antisocial personality disorder; these disorders are often accompanied by a lack of or decrease in empathy (SchulteRüther et al., 2008). Pasqual-Sagastizabel et al. (2013) explains that individuals on the autism spectrum score lower than unaffected men in empathic capacity tests and that unaffected men still score lower than unaffected women. Autism is also linked to high levels of androgens (Pasqual-Sagastizabel et al., 2013).
Schulte-Rüther et al. (2008) and Rueckert & Naybar (2008) conducted physiological studies detailing neural activity involved with empathy. Ruby and Decety (2003, 2004) demonstrated that the right inferior parietal lobe, located in the right hemisphere of the brain, may be more involved in empathic traits than the left hemisphere. “The role of the right hemisphere in empathy is congruent with its role in the ability to interpret emotional expression in faces and other social behaviors” (Rueckert & Naybar, 2008). Singer, Seymour, O’ Doherty, Stephan, Dolan, and Frith (2006) utilized functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure activity in the brain when volunteers were shocked or a confederate was shocked in an economic game. An fMRI measures the blood flow in the brain. One confederate was a fair player, while another played unfairly. They found that both males and females displayed activation of cerebral pain centers when both they and the fair playing participants received a shock. While females showed similar activation in these pain centers when the unfair player was shocked, males showed decreased activity in these centers when the unfair participant received a shock. Most interesting was that a new area of the brain had increased activity in men when the unfair player was shocked; the part that was activated is known to be the reward center of the brain, suggesting that men seek revenge and justice (Singer et al., 2006). Schulte-Rüther et al. (2008) found that “males demonstrate increased activation during the attribution of emotion to themselves in the temporal parietal junction”. This area is associated with “cognitive processes of perspective taking and the distinction of self- and other- perspective” (Schulte-Rüther et al., 2008, p.399). Schulte-Rüther et al. (2008) also found that male neural circuitry may contribute to mental separation of one’s perspective from someone else’s perspective. Empathy has been shown to be displayed differently in men and women. Women have consistently scored higher in empathy than men (Caruso & Mayer, 1998). Studies have shown
that administration of testosterone has reduced empathy among females (van Honk et al., 2011; Knickmeyer et al., 2006). Additionally, neuroimaging has shown a difference among males and females when measuring empathy (Schulte-Rüther et al., 2008; Rueckert & Naybar, 2008). Empathy in men and women has shown to be different in self-reports, neurological responses, and psychological responses.
CHAPTER FOUR METHODS Sample and Mechanism The data for this study were obtained from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (AMT). AMT is an online crowdsourcing internet service established in 2005 to complete online “human intelligence tasks” (HITS) for a small wage (Amazon, 2005). There are various types of HITS available on AMT, but they are similar in one specific fashion; AMT understands that it is sometimes better to use people as opposed to computers to complete certain tasks; an example is identifying emotions from a picture of someone’s face. AMT posts thousands of possible HITS to be completed that require human intelligence rather than computerized responses. This study was purposefully designed to sample approximately equal numbers of males and females. This study planned to create a HIT that requests 400 people from the United States 18 years or older to complete a survey. Participants must pass an English qualification test in order to participate in the survey. AMT provides limits to obtain a sample of English fluent, those 18 years or older, as well as persons living in the United States. There have been several studies used to attest to the quality of results taken from AMT that replicate previous literature’s data (Azzam & Jacobson, 2013; Amir, Rand & Gal, 2012; Berinsky, Huber, & Lenz, 2012; Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling, 2011; Casler, Bickel, & Hackett, 2013; Gardner, Brown, & Boice, 2012; Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John, 2004; Holden, Dennie, & Hicks, 2013; Horton, Rand, & Zeckhauser, 2011; Joinson, 1999; Mason & Suri, 2012; Paolacci, Chandler, & Ipeirotis, 2010; Rand, 2012; Simons & Chabris, 2012; Summerville & Chartier, 2013).
This survey had 78 questions divided into three sections. The first section consisted of demographic questions including questions asking race, age, children, and religion. The second section of the survey consisted of questions asking about fear of being victimized and fear of being a victim of a crime. Finally, the last section consisted of the empathy questions, the attribution questions, and the death penalty questions. The first two sections followed a pattern to make it easier for the survey-taker to complete. The third section was scrambled to prevent participants from falling into a response pattern. There was an incentive of $0.50 offered for completion of the survey. Participants knew prior to taking the survey that they would be compensated. Previous research has indicated that the quality of the data are independent on pay rates (Buhrmester et al., 2011; Mason & Watts, 2009) and that some workers on AMT take surveys as entertainment (Paolacci et al., 2010). The sample that was obtained consisted of 493 people who attempted the survey. Of these 493 initial participants, only 462 completed the survey. Additionally, only 403 of the 462 were complete and usable. As stated earlier in this section, 400 people were requested making the other excess data unusable. The average time to complete the survey was seven minutes; the longest time spent on the survey was three hours and thirty minutes, and the shortest time was one minute. Death Penalty Support This questionnaire asked respondents various questions pertaining to their opinions of the death penalty. The primary question asked was: “Generally speaking, I support the death penalty for adults legally convicted of murder.” The response to this question was measured on a fivepoint Likert Scale from strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1). Death penalty support was measured this way in order to compare it to the 60 plus years of Gallup polling that have
measured support in a similar manner (Bohm, 2012). Empathy Variables In an attempt to measure empathy from respondents, three different sub-measurements were utilized to create a multi-faceted approach. These empathy scales are cognitive, affective (also known as emotional), and ethnocultural. These measures were also measured on a Likert scale. The three sub-measures of empathy were used to gather data on the overall level of empathy from each respondent. The ethnocultural empathy questions are adapted from Wang et al.’s (2003) contribution to the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE). This scale was utilized, specifically to control for the interaction between racial prejudice and death penalty support Wang et al.’s (2003) fourfactor empathy scale is comprised of empathic feeling and expression, empathic perspective taking, acceptance of cultural differences and empathic awareness. To examine ethnocultural empathy, 16 questions adapted from Wang et al.’s (2003) SEE were utilized. These questions were chosen as they yielded a factor loading of .59 or higher. Questions that were included represent each of the four factors. Examples of the ethnocultural questions are listed below: 1.
I let people know that they have offended me when they make racist jokes no matter what race or ethnic group is the base of the joke.
It bothers me when people make racist statements against other racial or ethnic groups.
I can appreciate the feelings of the people who are the target of racial jokes.
When others experience difficulty with racial or ethnic oppression, I share their grievances.
If other racial or ethnic groups are being taken advantage of, I become upset.
These eleven items were entered into a principal components factor analysis from which an eigenvalue greater than 1.00 emerged; this factor reproduced 43.5% of the variance among these 11 items and factor loadings ranged from .28 to .83. These 11 items were combined into a weighted (by factor loadings) additive scale with Cronbach’s alpha reliability of .84. The measures of cognitive and affective empathy were adapted from Reiner’s et al.’s (2011) Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy. Reiners et al. (2011) represented a combination of affective and cognitive scales from previously validated scales. Additionally, Reiners et al. (2011) corrected for validity issues in these former scales to create their scale Reiners et al. (2011) published that empathy requires “… a comprehension of other people’s experience as well as the ability to vicariously experience the emotional experience of others.” These questions were chosen as they yielded a factor loading of .59 or higher. These questions included the Likert response choices of 5=strongly agree, 4=agree, 3=neither agree nor disagree, 2=disagree, and 1=strongly disagree. Some of the cognitive and affective empathy question items are listed below: Cognitive 1.
I can judge what a person might want to talk about.
I can tell if someone is hiding how they truly feel.
I can tell if I overstepped my boundaries, even when a person does not tell me.
I am a good predictor of how someone will feel.
I am a good predictor of the actions someone will do.
It is easy for me to sense if someone in a group is feeling uncomfortable.
It is easy for me to sense if someone says one thing but means another.
Cheerful people tend to make me happy.
When other people around me are worried, it makes me worried.
People who are sad tend to make me sad.
The people who I am with strongly influence my mood.
When other people around me are nervous, it makes me nervous.
When watching a movie or play or reading a book, I usually become emotionally involved with the feelings of the characters.
I have difficulty in understanding why certain things upset people so much.
These thirteen cognitive items were entered into a principal components factor analysis from which an eigenvalue greater than 1.00 emerged; this factor reproduced 48.6% of the variance among these 13 items and factor loadings ranged from .40 to .78. The additive scale generated from these 13 items produced a Cronbach’s alpha reliability of .91. Similarly, the nine affective items were entered into a principal components factor analysis from which an eigenvalue greater than 1.00 emerged; this factor reproduced 47.4% of the variance among these 9 items and factor loadings ranged from .54 to .82. These 9 items were combined into a weighted (by factor loadings) additive scale with Cronbach’s alpha reliability of .86 Attribution Variables Attribution theory questions were placed into the survey to test whether individuals displayed dispositional or situational attribution styles. These variables were based on literature that states that those with dispositional attributes were more likely to support the death penalty than those with situational attributes. The questions were formed based on Boots and Cochran’s (2011) attribution questions. These questions included the Likert response choices of 5=strongly
agree, 4=agree, 3=neither agree nor disagree, 2=disagree, and 1=strongly disagree. The questions are listed below: Dispositional 1. People who commit crimes have bad behavior. 2. Most people who commit crimes do so because they were born to be criminals. 3. Most people who commit crimes are selfish people who are not concerned about other’s feelings. 4. Most people who commit crimes do so because they are too lazy to get a job to earn the money responsibly. Situational 1. Most people who commit crimes do so because society offers them very little opportunity for success. 2. Most people commit crimes because of peer pressure. 3. Most people commit crime because they do not have good role models growing up. 4. Most people who commit crimes do so as a way of coping with poverty.
The four dispositional items were entered into a principal components factor analysis from which an eigenvalue greater than 1.00 emerged; this factor reproduced 44.1% of the variance among these 4 items and factor loadings ranged from .47 to .79. The additive scale generated from these 4 items produced a Cronbach’s alpha reliability of .57. Similarly, the four situational items were entered into a principal components factor analysis from which an eigenvalue greater than 1.00 emerged; this factor reproduced 52.4% of
the variance among these 4 items and factor loadings ranged from .39 to .81. The additive scale generated from these 4 items produced a Cronbach’s alpha reliability of .68. Sociodemographic Variables Sociodemographic variable questions were asked in the first section of the survey. These variables were based on previous research that indicates race, education level, religious affiliation, income, socioeconomic status, gender, politics, fear of crime, violent crime victimization, and region of the country show a significant relationship with death penalty support (Bohm, 2012; Cochran, Boots, & Heide, 2003). This section included sex (male or female), age (in years), marital status (single or never married, married, divorced, separated, widowed, or co-habitating or living with partner), parent (yes or no), if yes, the ages of children, region of country they spent most of their time prior to age 25 (north, east south, west, midwest, other:____, or don’t know), combined income of everyone in household (incremental scale: under $10k, $10k-$19,999…, $150k plus), race (White, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Native American or Alaskan Native, or other:____), Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin (yes or no), voter registration (Republican Party, Democratic Party, Independent Party, Reform Party, other:____, or not registered), political views (Likert: very liberal to very conservative), education (grade school or less, some high school, high school graduate, one or more years of technical, vocational, or trade school, some college, college graduate, one or more years of graduate, law, or medical school, or advanced degree in post bachelor program), and religion (Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, other:____, or none). Additionally, those who chose Protestantism were given the option to choose from sub-groups including Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, other:____, or not applicable
Method of Analysis The first form of analysis was to establish the existence of the racial divide and gender gap within the data. Over 60 years of Gallup polling has consistently shown that more Whites support the death penalty compared to Blacks and that more males support the death penalty compared to females (Bohm, 2012). Further opinion polls, such as the general social survey have matched the Gallup poll findings of a racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cochran &Sanders, 2009). The second form of analysis was to examine the influence of a host of commonly studied correlates of death penalty support to determine the extent to which these variables close or reduce these divides/gaps if at all. The third form of analysis adds the three empathy scales to the models described above to determine whether or not empathy narrows the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support. Research conducted by Unnever and Cullen (2009) and Unnever, Cullen and Fisher (2005) found that more empathic Americans were less likely to support capital punishment than less empathic Americans. The final form of analysis was to examine the interaction effects of empathy on race and empathy on gender. Previous research has indicated that females are more empathic than males (Caruso & Mayer, 1998; Reiners et al., 2011) and that individuals empathize more within their own race (Johnson et al., 2002).
CHAPTER FIVE RESULTS Overview Table 1 presents descriptive statistics on demographic questions addressed in the first section of the survey. The demographic results show that the gender was fixed as previously mentioned to 50% male and 50% female. There were an odd number of completed surveys creating an imperfect gender ratio. The average age of the participants was 36.07, and 51.6% were either married or cohabitating. The average participant completed some college in terms of education. Only 17.1% of the sample identified as non-White, and only 6.5% identified as Hispanic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Blacks represent 15.2% of the population, and Hispanics represent 17%of the population as of 2013 (Black, 2015; Hispanic, 2014). This sample’s racial and ethnic representations are not generalizable to the U.S. population. Additional demographic information is provided in the table. Additionally, the political party makeup was surprising; Democrats represented 40% and Republicans only represented 17.9%. Religion has been another correlate of death penalty support, however, 47% of the respondents did not identify with any religion. Income is a known correlate of death penalty support; this study yielded an average income response in the $40,000 to $49,999 range. This sample had 38.2% of participants who identified as graduating from college compared to the U. S. general population of 28.2 % (Educational, 2013). The second section of the survey asked questions about victimization and fear of crime. Only 2% of the sample had been the victim of a violent crime (e.g., rape, robbery, aggravated 42
assault, simple assault, sexual assault, etc.), and only 9.7% had been the victim of a property crime (e.g., burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, etc.) in the last 12 months. When asked about their fear of becoming a victim of violent crime, 45.5% of participants responded that they were not afraid. Similarly, when asked about their fear of becoming a victim of a property crime, 38% of participants were not afraid. Table 2 lists the level of capital punishment support in general as well as support of life without parole for adults convicted of first degree murder. The results indicated 52% support the death penalty for adults convicted of first degree murder and 33% oppose; this is lower than the last Gallup poll in 2014 which indicated 63% supported the death penalty (Jones, 2014). The data had a mean support of 3.22 and a standard deviation of 1.372. The survey also asked individuals if they would prefer life without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty for adults convicted of first degree murder. The results also indicated that 39% supported life without parole over the death penalty compared to 45% in the 2014 Gallup poll (Jones, 2014). Table 3 presents the zero-order correlation between general death penalty support and various variables known to be correlates of death penalty support. These findings indicate that death penalty support is not statistically significantly correlated to race, gender, cognitive empathy, and affective empathy. However, the results show that death penalty support is statistically significant and correlated to ethnocultural empathy (Pearson Correlation=-.276, p=.000), dispositional attribution (Pearson Correlation= .347, p=.000), and situational attribution (Pearson Correlation= -.163, p=.001). The results have failed to demonstrate either a racial divide or a gender gap in death penalty support among the sample. Similarly, the results indicated that two out of three of the empathy scales failed to correlate to death penalty support levels.
Table 4 lists correlations between race and the three empathy scales as well as correlations between race and the attribution scales. Additionally, this table lists the correlations between gender and the three empathy scales as well as correlations between gender and the attribution scales. There was no significant correlation between Whites and affective empathy, cognitive empathy, or dispositional attribution. There was a significant negative correlation between Whites and ethnocultural empathy as well as Whites and situational attribution. Blacks were only significantly correlated to ethnocultural empathy; this correlation was positive. Being male was significantly negatively correlated with ethnocultural empathy and cognitive empathy. All other correlations with males were non-significant.
CHAPTER SIX DISCUSSION Summary Previous research has indicated that there is a persistent and substantial racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support (Bohm, 2012). Whites are more likely than Blacks to support the death penalty. Likewise, males are more likely than females to support the death penalty. Several attempts have been made to attenuate these divides by controlling for attribution styles, religion, socio-economic status, levels of conservatism, racial animus, punitiveness, and other various items (Cochran & Chamlin, 2006 ; Cochran & Sanders, 2009). Controlling for these factors narrowed the divides, but failed to fully explain why they persist. Previous research on empathy has shown that those who are more empathic tend to be less punitive. This study attempted to attenuate these divides by controlling for 3 types of empathy: ethnocultural, cognitive, and affective. These empathy scales were used to try to explain why there is not a consensus among the United States population in death penalty support. Similar to other death penalty support measures, this study used polling data to collect the sample. The sample was conducted on a paid internet survey site Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. This website provided individuals in the United States who have been authenticated by Amazon to provide quality answers to Human Intelligence Tasks (HIT). The digital data from the survey was entered into Qualtrics.com, another online survey website, which was coded into a Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), a statistical software.
The findings were not what were expected. The results failed to show a racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support despite over 60 years of previous literature indicating otherwise (Bohm, 2012; Cochran & Chamlin, 2006; Cochran & Sanders, 2009). Further, this study failed to find a significant relationship between cognitive and affective empathy with death penalty support despite previous research that shows that those who are more empathic are less punitive (Batson, Polycarpou, Harmon-Jones, Imhoff, Mitchener, Bednar, Klein, & Highberger, 1997; Unnever & Cullen, 2009; Unnever, Cullen & Fisher, 2005). This study did, however, find a significant relationship between attribution styles and death penalty support as well as ethnocultural empathy and death penalty support. Those who scored higher on the ethnocultural empathy scale were less likely to support the death penalty. Those who scored higher on the dispositional attribution scale are more likely than those who scored lower on the scale to support the death penalty. Conversely, those who scored higher on the situational attribution scale were less likely to support the death penalty than those who scored lower. In summation of this study, it has been determined that the sample gathered through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is not representative of the United States general population. The lack of generalizability to the United States population affected this study’s ability to provide a racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support. The previous literature indicates that the racial divide and gender gap have been persistent for more than 60 years (Bohm, 2012). The sample also fails to show that two of the three empathy scales are associated with death penalty support even though empathy has been linked to levels of punitiveness. Finally, the empathy scales were adapted from previous scales which were shown to be reliable through testing (Reiners et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2013). This study’s lack of findings that match previous
research indicates that the fault lies within the use of the internet nonrandom sample rather than the measurements. Conclusion In order to truly assess the relationship between death penalty support, race, gender, and empathy, this study should be replicated through an alternative sample. A future study that consisted of a sample of university students would be more representative than the sample taken from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk; Druckman and Kam (2011) found students to be generalizable to the U.S. population. The predictions are that these measures will help attenuate the racial divide and gender gap in death penalty support through the use of empathy in a generalizable sample. This thesis is valuable for future research as it showed that at least one empathy scale was correlated to death penalty support despite issues with the Mechanical Turk sample. Additionally, this thesis questions the generalizability of samples taken from Mechanical Turk to the U.S. general population. Consideration needs to be given to how to determine the extent to which survey respondents seriously participate in future polling activities. Should surveys completed in an unreasonably short time (e.g., 1 minute) be excluded when a pilot study suggests that an average time to read the survey and respond thoughtfully is clearly much longer (e.g., 10 minutes)? In light of our experiences, we suggest that previous literature utilizing Mechanical Turk as their sample may need to be revisited to determine their validity.
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics on Various Variables Variable
Dummy variable 0 = female 1 = male Years
Age Married or Cohabitating Children
Dummy variable 0 = other 1 = married/cohabitating Dummy variable 0 = no 1 = yes Dummy variable 0 = non-South 1 = South 10-point ordinal scale (1=under $10,000; 10= $150,000 +) Dummy variable 0 = not White 1 = White Dummy variable 0 = no 1 = yes Dummy variable 0 = not Republican 1 = Republican
Dummy variable 0 = Identify with a religion 1 = No identification with a religion 8-point ordinal scale (1 = grade school; 8 = advanced degree
48.4 51.6 58.6 41.4 68.5 31.5
17.1 82.9 93.5 6.5 82.1 17.9
Table 2. Support for Capital Punishment Vs Life without Parole Percent Support Punishment Type
Strongly Agree Neither Disagree Strongly Agree A/D Disagree
Life Without Parole
Table 3. Zero-Order Correlations between General Death Penalty Support and Independent Variables Independent Variables
Ethno. Empathy -.276*
Note.* p < .05
Affective Empathy -.079
Cognitive Empathy .075
Dispositional Attribution .347*
Situational Attribution -.163*
N=403 White=White v not White; Black=Black v not Black
Table 4. Zero-Order Correlations between Race, Gender, and Independent Variables Independent Variables
Ethnocultural Empathy -.212**
Affective Empathy .031
Cognitive Empathy .047
Note.* p < .05; ** p< .01
Dispositional Attribution .033
Situational Attribution -.099*
N=403 White=White v not White; Black=Black v not Black
Percentage of people in favor
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Figure 1. Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?
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Appendix A: Attitudes toward Crime and Punishment Survey
Attitudes Toward Crime and Punishment Survey Summer 2015 University of South Florida Tampa, FL 33620
Thank you for participating in our survey. Your answers to the following questions will give us information about your attitudes regarding crime and justice. Please complete the questionnaire as follows:
Please answer the questions in the order they appear.
Only one answer for each question unless directed otherwise.
There are no right or wrong answers- we are interested in your opinion.
Please DO NOT type your name on the questionnaire.
Your responses are anonymous and will not be tied to you in any way.
You may skip any question you do not wish to answer.
You may stop filling out the questionnaire at any time.
Please ignore the numbers next to the response options; they are for computer coding purposes only.
Thank you, again, for your participation!
A. PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BACKGROUND. 1.
What is your age (as of your last birthday)? ____
Please indicate your current marital status. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Single, never married Married Divorced Separated Widowed Co-habitating (living with partner)
Do you have any children (biological, stepchildren, adopted, etc.)? 1.
If so, what are their ages? 5.
In what region of the country did you live for most of your life prior to age 25? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
North East South West Midwest Other: ____________ Don't Know
What is the combined income of everyone living in your household? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
What is your race? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
White Black or African American Asian Middle Eastern Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander American Indian or Alaskan Native Other: ______________________
Are you of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? 1. 2.
Under $10,000 $10,000-$19,999 $20,000-$29,999 $30,000-$39,999 $40,000-$49,999 $50,000-$69,999 $70,000-$89,999 $90,000-$119,999 $120,000-$149,999 $150,000+
How are you registered as a voter? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Republican Party Democrat Party Independent Party Reform Party Other: ________________ I am not registered.
Select the position which best describes your social and political views. l. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
What religion, if any, do you identify with? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Catholicism Judaism Buddhism Islam Protestantism If Protestant, please see question #12. Other: ______________ None
If Protestant, which denomination are you? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Very liberal Liberal Somewhat liberal Somewhat conservative Conservative Very conservative
Baptist Lutheran Methodist Presbyterian Episcopalian Assembly of God Church of Christ Other: ____________ Not applicable
Religion is a very important part of my life. 4. 3. 2. 1.
Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
What is the highest level of education you have completed? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
What is your primary source of news information? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Grade school or less Some high school High school graduate 1 or more years of technical, vocational, or trade school Some college College graduate 1 or more years of graduate, law, or medical school Advanced degree (e.g., Master's, Ph.D., J.D., M.D., etc.)
Television news stations Radio news stations Newspapers Magazines Books Internet Other: ______________
How would you characterize the area in which you live with respect to crime? 1. Low crime area 2. Moderate crime area 3. High crime area
THE NEXT GROUP OF QUESTIONS ASKS YOU ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH AND FEAR OF CRIME.
In the past twelve months, have you been the victim of a: Violent crime (e.g., rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, sexual assault, etc.) Yes ______ No ____ Property crime (e.g., burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, etc.) Yes ______ No ____
In the past twelve months, has a member of your household been the victim of a: Violent crime Property crime
How afraid are you of being a victim of property crime (e.g., burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, etc.)? 1. 2. 3. 4.
yes ______ no ____ yes ______ no ____
Not at all afraid Somewhat afraid Afraid Very afraid
How afraid are you of being a victim of violent crime (e.g., rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, sexual assault, murder, etc.)? 1. Not at all afraid 2. Somewhat afraid 3. Afraid 4. Very afraid
THE FOLLOWING SET OF QUESTIONS ASKS HOW YOU FEEL AND THINK ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS. Racial and ethnic groups are oppressed in our society. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
People who commit crimes have bad character. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people who commit crimes do so because they were born to be criminals. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people who commit crimes are selfish people who are not concerned about others’ feelings. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When my friends become upset, it affects me a lot. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Would you prefer life without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty for adults convicted of first degree murder? 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
Strongly oppose Somewhat oppose Neither oppose nor support Somewhat favor Strongly favor
Most people who commit crimes do so because they are too lazy to get a job to earn the money responsibly. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people who commit crimes do so because society offers them very little opportunity for success. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
The people who I am with strongly influence my mood. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people commit crimes because of peer pressure. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Racial stereotypes are generally accurate. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people commit crime because they do not have good role models growing up. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can understand how it would feel to be a different racial or ethnic background than I currently am. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most people who commit crimes do so as a way of coping with poverty. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Generally speaking, I believe that the death penalty is applied disproportionately to minorities. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Most individuals who commit really terrible crimes are mentally ill or mentally disturbed. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I let people know that they have offended me when they make racist jokes no matter what race or ethnic group is the base of the joke. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Mentally ill persons who commit serious crimes, including violent crimes, should be hospitalized and treated rather than sentenced to prison. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When my friends have problems, I feel for them. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Youths under age 18 who commit serious crimes, including violent crimes, should be sent to secure facilities for treatment rather than sentenced to prison. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When people are victimized because of their race or ethnicity, it bothers me. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
People who are sad tend to make me sad. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I support a modest tax increase to fund treatment for mentally ill defendants who are convicted of crimes. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can tell if someone is bored with what I am saying. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I support a modest tax increase to fund treatment for youths under 18 who are convicted of crimes. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I become annoyed when people from different racial and ethnic groups speak their native language. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Mental illness should be taken into account by the jury when deciding whether to recommend that a convicted murderer be sentenced to death. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Cheerful people tend to make me happy. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can tell if someone is hiding how they truly feel. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can appreciate the feelings of the people who are the target of racial jokes. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I am a good predictor of how someone will feel. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I have difficulty in understanding why certain things upset people so much. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Generally speaking, I support the death penalty for adults legally convicted of murder. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
It is easy for me to sense if someone in a group is feeling uncomfortable. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When others experience difficulty with racial or ethnic oppression, I share their grievances. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
It is easy for me to sense if someone says one thing but means another. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can tell if someone wants to be part of the conversation. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
It bothers me when people make racist statements against other racial or ethnic groups. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I try to understand everyone’s side of the story before I make a decision. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When races other than my own receive injustice, it upsets me. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Before I judge an individual, I try to imagine how I would feel in their shoes. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
There are often good reasons why American society treats different races or ethnicities differently. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I always try to consider everyone’s feelings before I do something. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Which of the following statements most accurately reflects your opinion regarding the use of the death penalty for adults who commit first-degree murder? I favor the use of the death penalty… 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
for all adults who commit first-degree murder for most adults who commit first-degree murder for some adults who commit first-degree murder for just a few adults who commit first-degree murder I am opposed to the use of the death penalty I am uncertain
When other people around me are worried, it makes me worried. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I know what it feels like to be a minority race or ethnicity. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When other people around me are nervous, it makes me nervous. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When watching a movie or play or reading a book, I usually become emotionally involved with the feelings of the characters. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I become annoyed when people cannot speak English. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
When I see someone cry, it makes me sad. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
It is easy for me to relate to stories of racial or ethnic discrimination. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
It is difficult for me to put myself in someone else’s shoes if they are not my race or ethnicity. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I am a good predictor of the actions someone will do. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
I can tell if I overstepped my boundaries, even when a person does not tell me. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
If other racial or ethnic groups are being taken advantage of, I become upset. 1. Strongly agree 2. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 4. Disagree 5. Strongly disagree
I can judge what a person might want to talk about. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
Mental illness should be taken into account by the judge when deciding whether to sentence a convicted murderer to death. 5. Strongly agree 4. Agree 3. Neither agree nor disagree 2. Disagree 1. Strongly disagree
You have finished the survey. If you have any comments you would like to make, please feel free to contact John Cochran, Kathleen Heide or Brian Godcharles at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] respectively.
Thank you for your participation!
Appendix B: Letter of Approval from the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board
Appendix C: Informed Consent
Informed Consent to Participate in Research Information to Consider Before Taking Part in this Research Study Pro # ___00022481_____________ Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) study many topics. To do this, we need the help of people who agree to take part in a research study. This form tells you about this research study. We are asking you to take part in a research study that is called: Attitudes Toward Crime and Punishment. The person who is in charge of this research study is John K. Cochran. This person is called the Principal Investigator.
I. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to find out public opinion about crime and punishment through a survey. The survey will gather demographic information (age, race, sex), as well as opinions about various other crime related questions. The survey results will remain anonymous and will be coded and analyzed through statistical software.
II. Why are you being asked to take part? We are asking you to take part in this research study because you are a select group of individuals who are 18 years of age or older, residents of the United States, and are available to complete this task via Mechanical Turk.
Study Procedures If you take part in this study, you will be asked to complete an online survey asking about demographic characteristics (age, race, sex) as well as questions regarding crime and punishment. Data will be collected via Mechanical Turk and will be coded and transferred to statistical software (e.g. Stata, SPSS, SAS). This data will be collected anonymously and will not be linked back to their identity.
Alternatives / Voluntary Participation / Withdrawal You have the alternative to choose not to participate in this research study. You should only take part in this study if you want to volunteer; you are free to participate in this
research or withdraw at any time. There will be no penalty or loss of benefits you are entitled to receive if you stop taking part in this study.
Benefits and Risks We are unsure if you will receive any benefits by taking part in this research study. This research is considered to be minimal risk.
Compensation We will pay you for the time you volunteer while being in this study. Payment will be received upon completion of the survey. Payment for completion is $0.50. Attempts to defraud or giving random answers forfeits compensation for this study.
Privacy and Confidentiality We must keep your study records as confidential as possible. It is possible, although unlikely, that unauthorized individuals could gain access to your responses because you are responding online. Certain people may need to see your study records. By law, anyone who looks at your records must keep them completely confidential. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are: Principal Investigator: John Cochran, Advising professor: Kathleen Heide, Research team: Brian Godcharles, and The University of South Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB).
It is possible, although unlikely, that unauthorized individuals could gain access to your responses. Confidentiality will be maintained to the degree permitted by the technology used. No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the Internet. However, your participation in this online survey involves risks similar to a person’s everyday use of the Internet. If you complete and submit an anonymous survey and later request your data be withdrawn, this may or may not be possible as the researcher may be unable to extract anonymous data from the database.
Contact Information If you have any questions about your rights as a research participant, please contact the USF IRB at 974-5638. If you have questions regarding the research, please contact the Principal Investigator at (813) 974-9547 or [email protected] . We may publish what we learn from this study. If we do, we will not let anyone know your name. We will not publish anything else that would let people know who you are. You can print a copy of this consent form for your records. I freely give my consent to take part in this study. I understand that by proceeding with this survey that I am agreeing to take part in research and I am 18 years of age or older.