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Are “We” More Punitive than “Me”? Self-Construal Styles, Justice-Related Attitudes, and Punitive Judgments

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Abstract

Cross-cultural as well as procedural justice research suggests that an interdependent self-construal is connected to more justice-related concerns, more moral outrage following observed unethical behavior, and a preference for effective but constructive sanctions. Independent self-construal, on the other hand, is expected to be connected to weaker moral reactions toward injustice, but also to preferring punitive over constructive forms of sanctions. Two studies were conducted in which dispositional self-construal was measured. In Study 2, self-construal was also manipulated with a priming procedure. Results show that interdependent self-construal is connected to stronger emotional reactions toward injustice, to social and moral concerns, to preferences for constructive forms, but also to retribution-oriented goals of punitive sanctions. Independent self-construal, on the other hand, goes along with fewer moral concerns, lower punitiveness, but more draconic attitudes.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank John M. Darley, Ute Gabriel, and Jane Thompson for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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Gollwitzer, M., Bücklein, K. Are “We” More Punitive than “Me”? Self-Construal Styles, Justice-Related Attitudes, and Punitive Judgments. Soc Just Res 20, 457–478 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-007-0051-y

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