Two experiments (Experiment 1 N = 149, Experiment 2 N = 141) investigated how two mental states that underlie how perceivers reason about intentional action (awareness of action and desire for an outcome) influence blame and punishment for unintended (i.e., negligent) harms, and the role of anger in this process. Specifically, this research explores how the presence of awareness (of risk in acting, or simply of acting) and/or desire in an acting agent's mental states influences perceptions of negligence, judgements that the acting agent owes restitution to a victim, and the desire to punish the agent, mediated by anger. In both experiments, awareness and desire led to increased anger at the agent and increased perception of negligence. Anger mediated the effect of awareness and desire on negligence rather than negligence mediating the effect of mental states on anger. Anger also mediated punishment, and negligence mediated the effects of anger on restitution. We discuss how perceivers consider mental states such as awareness, desire, and knowledge when reasoning about blame and punishment for unintended harms, and the role of anger in this process.
- social cognition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)