Some people who are accused of a crime admit to the act, but provide an excuse. The effects of an excuse's self-inflictedness level (high, moderate, or low) and the type of victim attacked (one partially responsible for the defendant's excusing condition, or innocent victim) were investigated. After a pretest (N = 26) to choose stimuli, participants (N = 220) read a scenario in which a male attacks another and then, once on trial, gives an excuse for his act. Those giving highly vs. less self-inflicted excuses were more likely to receive a guilty verdict, received higher guilt level ratings, and tended to receive longer sentences; those who hurt an innocent vs. a partially responsible victim were more likely to be found guilty. In addition, the defendant's sentence was influenced by both the type of victim and the self-inflictedness level of the excuse. The influence of perceived responsibility for an act on jurors' decisions is discussed.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Applied Social Psychology
|Published - Apr 2001
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology