, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 57-87

A Comparison of uninformed and informed death penalty opinions: A replication and expansion

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Abstract

This study examines the influence on death penalty opinions of participating in a college class on the death penalty. Students in the class (the experimental group) and in another class offered at the same time (the control group) were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their attitudes toward capital punishment at the beginning and at the end of the semester. They were also asked factual questions that measured their knowledge about capital punishment. Overall, the results of the study suggest that both groups were not well informed during the pretest measure. However, at the end of the semester, the group enrolled in the death penalty class were more knowledgable, less supportive of the death penalty based on general/absrtact questions, and more likely to favor alternatives to capital punishment than were the students in the control group.