Restorative Justice: Reflections and the Retributive Impulse

  • Alana SaulnierEmail author
  • Diane Sivasubramaniam
Part of the Advances in Psychology and Law book series (APL, volume 3)


Formal criminal justice systems worldwide have been increasingly incorporating restorative justice. As such, it is important to consider the state of knowledge on restorative justice, reflecting on that which is known and that which remains largely unknown. This chapter provides an overview of the academic literature associated with restorative justice to date, including: how restorative procedures differ from court-based justice responses; empirical research assessing restorative interventions; and theoretical explanations of the effects of restorative justice relative to court-based models. The latter part of the chapter is dedicated to the importance of better understanding public perceptions of appropriate justice. We draw attention to the discrepancy between legal and lay notions of justice; specifically, that legal notions of justice revolve around deliberative information processing, whereas lay notions of justice often stem from intuitive responses leading to retributive impulses. We argue that laypersons’ retributive motivations present a challenge to restorative justice, but that psychological research devoted to better understanding lay decision-making and justice heuristics offers a means to advance the long-term viability of restorative procedures. We conclude by suggesting more focused research directions that would progress the current state of knowledge, highlighting the value of experimental methods in this area of research.


Restorative justice Retributive justice Deliberative processing Intuitive processing Procedural justice Reintegrative shaming 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary StudiesLakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Department of Psychological SciencesSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia

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