Modeling “Remorse Bias” in probation narratives: Examining social cognition and judgments of implicit violence during sentencing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This research, utilizing semi-structured interviews with a sample of U.S. probation officers (N = 151) and grounded theory, provides the first-known empirical study to examine ways in which implicit cognitive processes may influence how probation officers evaluate expressions of remorse by defendants during the sentencing of violent offenses. Particularly, I develop a model by which probation officers exhibit remorse bias toward defendants with characteristics that are stereotypically associated with violence and how such bias can negatively affect officers’ pre-sentencing reports and sentencing recommendations for such defendants. Data showed that officers exhibit remorse bias by linking certain personal and background characteristics of defendants that “signal” the potential for violence to implicit assumptions that their remorse displays are insincere through two social cognitive processes: fundamental attribution error and issues with out-group empathy. When probation officers exhibited remorse bias via these social cognitive processes, they described crafting. negative “remorse-based narratives” in their pre-sentencing reports that express doubt about the authenticity of defendants’ remorse displays and use such displays to make character assessments that portray defendants as being implicitly violent. Takeaways and implications of the developed model, as well as the need to provide trainings to probation officers on remorse bias, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-482
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling “Remorse Bias” in probation narratives: Examining social cognition and judgments of implicit violence during sentencing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this