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Crime and punishment : morality judgment in a foreign language

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The current study examined whether use of a foreign language affects the manner in which people evaluate a criminal situation. We employed a range of crime scenarios, for which severity judgment scores were obtained. Crimes that were written in a foreign language were systematically evaluated as less severe compared with the same cases described in the native language. We propose that these differences may be due to attenuated emotional processing in a nonnative language. Crucially, this observed variation in severity judgment may also affect magistrates and police interrogators confronted with crime scenarios formulated in a foreign tongue. This in turn would have inevitable consequences for the penalty they will or will not exact on the suspect.
ISSN: 1939-2222
Issue: 8
Volume: 149
Pages: 1597 - 1602