Relationship between Anticipatory Guilt and Self-Affirmation on Support for Questionable Crime Control Policies: A comparison of gender and student/community samples
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Recently, crime control policies have been developed in response to moral panics after rare, horrific crimes (e.g., child abduction-murder) that are difficult to predict and combat. Although these policies are popular with the public, policymakers, and victims' families, research suggests that some policies are "Crime Control Theater": they appear to address crime, but in reality rarely work and could have negative consequences (Griffin & Miller, 2008). Researchers have investigated why people continue to support these policies, but have not studied how guilt and self-affirmation relate to support. This experiment examined how self-affirmation and anticipatory guilt affect participants' support (e.g., belief the policy works, willingness to act to demonstrate support) toward one questionable policy (i.e. a law requiring students to have a microchip in their identification cards that would allow them to be tracked by GPS). While there were no significant effects for manipulated self-affirmation or guilt on an individual's support, measurements of these variables did predict support. Also, individuals with high self-esteem showed significantly more support for the policy than individuals with low self-esteem. Community members were more supportive of the policy than students. Females were more likely than males to support the policy. Possibly, such policies are more relevant to the lives of older adults and females, leading them to be more supportive. These results revealed that people might support questionable crime control policies based on emotion and not logic. Implications for policy-making and educating the public are discussed.