Blameworthy Character Invites Harsher Punishment

In his Keynote Presentation at The Asian Conference on Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences 2014 (ACP2014), Dr Minoru Karasawa presents his finding on the effectiveness of punishment in Japanese society.

Ordinary people typically think that it is fair to punish an individual, and a group, who has certain undesirable characters such as immoral proclivity. In this presentation, Dr Karasawa discusses why and how this intuitive judgment of fairness against unwanted character is formed. He points out that there are at least two different kinds of views that may govern punitive motives; that is, utilitarian judgments and the sense of retributive justice. He then present findings from social psychological studies that demonstrate different roles of these two views that lead to harsher punishment of immoral or inhuman criminal defendants. Dr Karasawa also points out the lay tendency to regard social groups and organizations (e.g., corporates) as entitative social agents, just like individual actors. This may lead to blaming the group as an independent and responsible entity in case of its wrongdoing, and thereby resulting in actual punitive behaviour such as boycotting. Theoretical models as well as empirical evidence will be presented to elucidate psychological processes underlying the animating perception of group agents. Possibilities of interplay between psychological studies of person/group perception and those of morality judgments will be discussed.

Dr Minoru Karasawa

Dr Minoru Karasawa’s primary research area is social cognition, covering various issues such as social categorisation, intergroup cognition and emotions and the role of culture and language in social inferences. He is also heading a research project on the psychological mechanism underlying judgments of responsibility and punitive motives in legal contexts. He has been an Associate Editor of The Asian Journal of Social Psychology and the Editor of The Japanese Journal of Social Psychology. Academic associations that he has served as a board member include the Japanese Society of Social Psychology, the Japanese Group Dynamics Association and the Japanese Society for Law and Psychology. He has been a member of the Science Council of Japan since 2006.

Dr Minoru Karasawa was a Keynote Speaker at The Asian Conference on Psychology & the Behavioural Sciences 2014 (ACP2014) in Osaka, Japan.

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