Van Prooijen, J.-W., & Coffeng, J. (2013). What is fair punishment for Alex or Ahmed? Perspective taking increases racial bias in retributive justice judgments. Social Justice Research, 26, 383-399.




Previous research frequently found that perspective taking may reduce various sorts of racial biases. In the present research, we propose that perspective taking may increase racial bias in the specific context of retributive justice judgments, that is, evaluations of what punishment is considered fair for offenders. In two studies, we manipulated whether or not participants took the perspective of a target offender, who was named either Alex or Ahmed. Results revealed evidence for racial bias under conditions of perspective taking in both studies: Perspective taking increased punishment for Ahmed, but not for Alex, in a theft case (Study 1). Furthermore, perspective taking decreased punishment for Alex, but not for Ahmed, in the case of less severe offense that is less clearly intentional (Study 2). The consequence is similar in both studies: More severe retributive justice judgments for Ahmed than for Alex under conditions of perspective taking.