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Increased Voting for Candidates Who Compensate Victims Rather than Punish Offenders

Abstract

Three studies demonstrate that people are more likely to vote for political candidates who respond to injustice in a compensatory rather than punitive manner. Participants were more likely to vote for candidates who responded to various transgressions (the Darfur crisis, campus bike theft, and domestic violence) by compensating victims (or simultaneously compensating victims and punishing perpetrators) rather than solely punishing the perpetrator or not responding. Furthermore, participants’ perceptions of candidates’ warmth (but not competence) mediated the relationship between punishing versus compensating and voting.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Hayes and Preacher (2011) recommend using dummy-coding to facilitate interpretation of the coefficients when you have a multi-categorical independent variable in a mediation model. Although it is common to use the control condition as the reference group in this coding strategy it is not required. Instead, we purposefully used the punishment condition as the reference group so we could directly analyze the comparison of interest: punishing versus compensating. In addition, given that the punisher was more likely to be voted for than the non-responder but less likely to be voted for than the compensator, use of punishment as the reference group allowed us to explain the most interesting differences in the data with one set of dummy-coded vectors.

  2. 2.

    We conducted similar mediation analyses using the non-response condition as the reference group. Warmth (but not competence) mediated the effects of (a) not responding versus compensating and (b) not responding versus simultaneously punishing/compensating on voting. This was also true in Studies 2 and 3.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Lara Tiedens, Benoît Monin, and Monin/Mullen morality lab members for their comments on this manuscript.

Author information

Correspondence to Gabrielle S. Adams.

Appendices

Appendix

We conducted supplementary analyses with political orientation as a predictor of voting, warmth, and competence in all three studies. Past studies have shown that political orientation is correlated with people’s preferences for punishment and support for government spending on social problems. For example, some research suggests that conservatives are more punitive than liberals (Carroll, Perkowitz, Lurigio, & Weaver, 1987; Skitka & Tetlock, 1993), although other research provides evidence that liberals are more punitive than conservatives (e.g., when responding to corporate wrongdoing; Hans & Ermann, 1989). Research also suggests that liberals are more willing to spend government funds to help those in need (e.g., victims of a natural disaster) relative to conservatives (Skitka, 1999; Skitka & Tetlock, 1993); liberals might therefore be more willing to compensate victims than conservatives. Thus, we explored whether political orientation would be associated with the likelihood of voting for a particular type of injustice responder.

Across all three studies we found that political orientation did not moderate people’s tendency to vote for candidates who included compensation in their response relative to candidates who solely punished. We nevertheless present these analyses for the interested reader. Importantly, results of all the analyses indicated that our conclusions about people’s preferences for voting for compensators (or those who both compensate and punish) relative to punishers hold for both liberals and conservatives.

Study 1: Supplementary Analyses

We conducted three separate moderated regression analyses (Aiken & West, 1991) to test for an interaction between condition and political orientation on warmth, competence, and voting. We mean centered political orientation and created three dummy-coded vectors to capture injustice response (a non-response vector in which non-response was coded 1 and the remaining conditions were coded 0; a compensation vector in which compensation was coded 1 and the remaining conditions were coded 0; and a punish/compensate vector in which simultaneously punishing and compensating was coded 1 and the remaining conditions were coded 0) (Hayes & Preacher, 2011). Thus, each vector represents the effect of a particular injustice response relative to punishing. We chose the punishment condition as the referent group to facilitate testing for interactions with the comparisons of theoretical interest (i.e., punishment versus not responding, punishment versus compensation, and punishment versus simultaneously punishing and compensating). The results of these regression analyses are reported in Table 4.

Table 4 Unstandardized regression coefficients for predictors of warmth, competence, and voting, Study 1

Study 2: Supplementary Analyses

Despite not having very many conservatives in our sample in Study 2, we again conducted moderated regression analyses to test for an interaction between injustice response condition (using the same vectors as in Study 1) and political orientation (centered) on voting. Results of these regression analyses revealed that political orientation did not have any main or interactive effects with injustice response on warmth, competence or voting, see Table 5. Given the smaller number of conservatives in the sample, these analyses should be interpreted with caution.

Table 5 Unstandardized regression coefficients for predictors of warmth, competence, and voting, Study 2

Study 3: Supplementary Analyses

We conducted moderated regression analyses to test for an interaction between injustice response condition (using the same vectors as in Study 1) and political orientation (centered) on voting. Results of these analyses revealed that political orientation did not have any main or interactive effects with injustice response condition on warmth, competence, or voting, see Table 6.

Table 6 Unstandardized regression coefficients for predictors of warmth, competence, and voting, Study 3

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Adams, G.S., Mullen, E. Increased Voting for Candidates Who Compensate Victims Rather than Punish Offenders. Soc Just Res 26, 168–192 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-013-0179-x

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Keywords

  • Punishment
  • Compensation
  • Voting
  • Warmth
  • Competence
  • Status conferral