Conclusions About Abolitionists as Execution Actors

In the Death Penalty Study, researchers did not consider a stated opinion about the death penalty a valid measure of opposition to (or acceptance of) the death penalty. Rather, researchers asked which methods of execution each person supported. If a person rejected all methods of execution (11 were listed in the study), then they were Abolitionists by virtue of actions they were unwilling to support (methods of execution). Abolitionists in large numbers saw the death penalty as unfair and immoral. Abolitionists in large numbers reported disdain for public executions. Regarding the act of executions, Abolitionists reported low levels of vicarious sadism and actual sadism.

Researchers find it interesting that a small minority of people who uniformly rejected all methods of execution nevertheless reported that they agreed with opinions in favor of the death penalty. Half the people in the Death Penalty Study were asked if they agreed with a biased opinion question about the death penalty. About 24% of Abolitionists agreed with the death penalty opinion. The other half of the people in the study were asked an unbiased opinion question about the death penalty. Even so, 14% of Abolitionists (based on their roles as actors in executions) said they supported the death penalty.