From wrongdoing to imprisonment: Test of a causal-moral model

Ramadhar Singh, Joseph J.P. Simons, William T. Self, Philip E. Tetlock, Paul A. Bell, James May, Richard J. Crisp, Susheel Kaur, Jacob A. Benfield, William J. Sziemko

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The authors tested a causal-moral model of punishment in which (a) causal attribution and moral responsibility are distinct precursors of punishment, and (b) dispositional attribution leads to blame which, in turn, determines imprisonment. Specifically, whereas severity of outcome impacts punishment directly, circumstances of the crime and the culture of the observers impact punishment through causal attribution and blame, respectively. In an experiment, Singaporeans and Americans read about a crime that (a) was committed intentionally or under an extenuating circumstance and (b) had low or severe outcome for the victim. They made dispositional attribution to, assigned blame to, and recommended imprisonment for the offender. Results supported the hypotheses and the causal-moral path model that specified a direct effect of severity of outcome, an indirect effect of country via blame, and the indirect effects of circumstance via dispositional attribution to blame on imprisonment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-78
Number of pages6
JournalIIMB Management Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics


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