Moral typecasting underlies punitive responses to crime

Andrea L. Miller, Eugene Borgida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We examine the role of moral typecasting in lay individuals' punitive responses to crime. Individuals perceive criminal offenders and victims in ways that are biased by their perceptions of the actors' moral roles in prior simulated criminal incidents. We find that this psychological process of moral typecasting has important implications for punitive responses to criminal offenders, and these findings make 2 major contributions to the literature. First, we show that moral agency is distinct from moral deservingness, which is 1 of the dominant explanations for punitive behavior in social psychology. Second, the role of moral typecasting in punitive responses means that these responses can occur regardless of the valence of moral character. We argue that theories of lay punitive responding that do not take moral typecasting processes into account are incomplete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-706
Number of pages10
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • crime
  • moral character
  • moral desert
  • moral typecasting
  • punitive responses


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