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Justice and forgiveness: experimental evidence for compatibility.

Strelan, Peter
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 44:1538-1544.

A 3 (justice prime: restorative, retributive, no prime)  3 (contextual prime: criminal justice system, intimate
relationship, workplace) experimental design was used with 173 participants reading hypothetical
transgression scenarios to test the hypothesis that people associate forgiveness more with restorative
justice than with retributive justice, and that such relationships hold regardless of the social context.
As predicted, there were main effects for justice prime, with participants more likely to associate benevolent
responding, and less likely to associate revenge and avoidant responses, with restorative justice
than with retributive justice. They were also more likely to associate benevolence, and less likely to associate
revenge and avoidant responses, with intimate relationships than with criminal justice and the
workplace. Also as predicted, there was no interaction between justice and context for benevolence
and revenge. Although one should be cautious about extrapolating from ‘no difference’ hypotheses, these
results provide some indication that the forgiveness-justice relationship may be generalised beyond the
criminal justice system. (excerpt)


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