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In many domains of social life, people risk wrongly accusing an innocent person (i.e., false alarm error) or failing to catch a guilty person (i.e., miss error). Do liberals and conservatives differ in their concern about these types of errors? Across three preliminary studies, we found that conservatives were more bothered by miss errors than liberals, whereas liberals were more bothered by false alarm errors than conservatives. These associations were driven by social as opposed to economic ideology (Preliminary Studies 1b and 2). Further, conservatives were more bothered by ambiguously threatening miss errors than liberals, but liberals and conservatives were equally bothered by clearly threatening miss errors (Preliminary Study 2), suggesting that threat is a mechanism for the association between conservatism and miss concern. We extended the preliminary work in two studies. In Study 3, we found that social conservatism related to increased concern about miss errors when they occurred in authoritative contexts, but not when they occurred in authority-void contexts. In contrast, social liberalism related to increased concern about false alarm errors regardless of authoritative context. Study 3 also demonstrated that belief in retributive justice statistically mediated the association between conservatism and miss sensitivity, whereas moralization of fairness and egalitarian concerns mediated the association between liberalism and false alarm sensitivity. In Study 4, we examined beliefs about a target's guilt or innocence and found that, on a continuous scale assessing beliefs of innocence to guilt, conservatives were more likely to believe a target was guilty, whereas liberals were more likely to believe a target was innocent. Together these studies provide a nuanced examination of the role of political ideology in responses to determinations of guilt.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
E. Ashby Plant, Professor Directing Dissertation; Andrea C. Westlund, University Representative; Jon K. Maner, Committee Member; James K. McNulty, Committee Member; Colleen M. Ganley, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Mallinas, S. (2021). Ideological Differences in Responses to Errors in Determining Guilt. Retrieved from https://purl.lib.fsu.edu/diginole/2021_Summer_Mallinas_fsu_0071E_16625