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What Predicts Punitiveness? An Examination of Predictors of Punitive Attitudes towards Offenders in Australia


Spiranovic, CA and Roberts, LD and Indermaur, D, What Predicts Punitiveness? An Examination of Predictors of Punitive Attitudes towards Offenders in Australia, Psychiatry Psychology and Law, 19, (2) pp. 249-261. ISSN 1321-8719 (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 The Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law

DOI: doi:10.1080/13218719.2011.561766


A widespread public preference for harsher sentencing (punitiveness) has been documented in a range of national and international studies. The present study examines the relative predictive power of a set of factors most commonly linked with punitiveness. This study is based on the responses given in the largest Australian survey to date of public attitudes to punishment (N = 6005). A combined hierarchical multiple regression model comprising demographic variables, media usage variables, and crime salience variables accounted for a significant 30% of variance in scores for punitiveness. The three variables that emerged as the strongest predictors of punitive attitudes were: perceptions of crime levels; education; and reliance on tabloid/commercial media for news and information. The results have direct implications for how we understand the persistent public preference for punishment and what might be required to ameliorate or respond to that preference.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:attitudes to punishment, predictors, publlic opinion, public perception, punitiveness, survey
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Legal systems
Research Field:Legal institutions (incl. courts and justice systems)
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Criminal justice
UTAS Author:Spiranovic, CA (Dr Caroline Spiranovic)
ID Code:93079
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2014-07-10
Last Modified:2014-12-03

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