Four experiments examined the hypothesis that perspective taking with a defendant would lead to greater empathy, which would mediate lowered perceptions of culpability, with lowered culpability mediating a lower probability of guilt and recidivism. Experiments 1 and 2 established that perspective taking leads to a lower probability of guilty verdicts and recidivism, mediated by a decreased perception of the defendant's culpability. Experiment 2 showed that it does so by increasing empathy. Experiment 3 showed that perspective taking also heightens the perception of culpability through increased empathy for the victim. Experiment 4 showed that decreased culpability is in part driven by leniency, which is also a function of empathy. We tie our findings into other research investigating links between empathy and perspective taking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology