This study examines how formal education in biological and behavioral sciences may impact punishment intuitions (views on criminal sentencing, free will, responsibility, and dangerousness) in cases involving neurobiological evidence. In a survey experiment, we compared intuitions between biobehavioral science and non-science university graduates by presenting them with a baseline case without a neurobiological explanation for offending followed by one of two cases with a neurobiological explanation (described as either innate or acquired biological influences to offending). An ordinal logistic regression indicated that both science and non-science graduates selected significantly more severe punishments for the baseline case as compared to when an innate neurobiological explanation for offending was provided. However, across all cases, science graduates selected significantly less severe sentences than non-science graduates, and only science graduates' decisions were mediated by free will and responsibility attributions. Findings are discussed in relation to scientific understandings of behavior, the impact of science education on attitudes towards punishment, and potential criminal-legal implications.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Behavioral Sciences and the Law|
|State||Accepted/In press - 2022|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- free will