Psychological mechanisms underlying support for juvenile sex offender registry laws

Prototypes, moral outrage, and perceived threat

Jessica Salerno, Cynthia J. Najdowski, Margaret C. Stevenson, Tisha R A Wiley, Bette L. Bottoms, Roberto Vaca, Pamela S. Pimentel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In three studies, we investigated support for applying sex offender registry laws to juveniles. Family law attorneys supported registry laws less for juveniles than for adults. Laypeople and prosecutors supported juvenile and adult sex offender registration equally-even though they perceived juveniles as generally less threatening than adults (Study 1)-because most people spontaneously envision a severe sex offender prototype regardless of offender age (Study 2). People are less supportive of registry laws, however, when they envision less severe prototypes spontaneously (Study 2) or when induced to do so (Study 3). Effects of offender age, offender prototypes, and offense severity were mediated by perceptions of threat posed by the juvenile sex offender (i.e., utilitarian concerns). The effect of offense severity was also mediated by moral outrage (i.e., retributive concerns).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-83
Number of pages26
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

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Registries
offender
threat
Psychology
Law
offense
layperson
Lawyers
family law

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Psychological mechanisms underlying support for juvenile sex offender registry laws : Prototypes, moral outrage, and perceived threat. / Salerno, Jessica; Najdowski, Cynthia J.; Stevenson, Margaret C.; Wiley, Tisha R A; Bottoms, Bette L.; Vaca, Roberto; Pimentel, Pamela S.

In: Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Vol. 28, No. 1, 01.2010, p. 58-83.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Salerno, Jessica ; Najdowski, Cynthia J. ; Stevenson, Margaret C. ; Wiley, Tisha R A ; Bottoms, Bette L. ; Vaca, Roberto ; Pimentel, Pamela S. / Psychological mechanisms underlying support for juvenile sex offender registry laws : Prototypes, moral outrage, and perceived threat. In: Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2010 ; Vol. 28, No. 1. pp. 58-83.
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