Abstract 24:171-194

Sygit-Kowalkowska, Ewa, Krzysztof Kraszkiewicz (2014) Psychological analysis of adults’ attitudes to penalization of selected illegal acts with regard to socio-demographic features and empathy levels. Research report. „Profilaktyka Społeczna i Resocjalizacja” 24: 171-194.



There is a bulk of research on social attitudes to the penalization of selected crimes. Studies clearly show that citizens tend to adopt a specific attitude to penalties, which is conditioned by their appropriateness and fairness. The aim of our study was to analyze, in psychological terms, the relation between demographic, social and emotional variables and the attitude adopted towards the incrimination of some illegal acts. The results show generally higher empathy levels and stricter attitudes among women, especially to infanticide. Individuals with the highest average results in the EUQ (Empathic Understanding Questionnaire) displayed on average a more rigorous attitude than the one specified by the criminal code. For certain categories of crimes, such as: 1) rape with extreme cruelty; 2) murder with extreme cruelty; 3) dissemination and welcome of pedophile activity; and 4) forced prostitution, there was a unanimous agreement that penalties should not be less than those already set forth in legislation. There is a need for further analyses to demonstrate how the individual’s specific characteristic may influence their choice of penalty when faced with the task of assessing an illegal behavior.



empathy, penalization, crimes, euthanasia, infanticide, trafficking in human beings, abuse