A Real-World Simulation

A Mock Death Penalty Jury

To investigate differences among death penalty supporters, they were placed on a mock death penalty jury. The jury convicted a serial murderer who tortured and killed a small child. Jurors were asked to recommend a punishment. Not surprisingly, a majority of death penalty supporters voted for the death penalty. The jurors were then invited to attend the murder's execution.

Those who declined to attend the execution were classified as Soft Abstract Supporters of the death penalty. They could vote for death on a jury but wanted nothing to do with the actual killing. Those who reported some willingness to attend the execution were asked if they would 'push the button' to execute (kill) the man they had sentenced to death.

Those willing to attend the execution but refused to execute the condemned man were classified as Hard Abstract Supporters. These people served on the jury, voted for the death penalty, and were willing to attend the execution. But they drew the line at actually killing another human being. They wanted somebody else to do it.

The final group was classified as Executioners. These people served on the jury, voted for the death penalty, and said they were likely to attend the execution. Further, they were willing to execute (kill) the person they had convicted.